26 University of Michigan Supplemental Essay Examples (2023)

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Essay Examples

To get into the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2023, you have to write strong supplemental essays.

In this article, I've gathered 26 of the best supplemental and Common App essay examples for Michigan.

University of Michigan Admissions FAQ

Here are some answers to common questions regarding applying to UMich.

As one of the highest ranked public universities in the U.S., Michigan has a reputation that makes for a competitive admissions process.

University of Michigan's Acceptance Rate

This past year, a record 79,743 students applied to Michigan and only 16,071 were offered admission.

That gives Michigan an overall admit rate of just 20.15% for the Class of 2026.

University of Michigan Acceptance Scattergram

Here's a scattergram that shows admitted and rejected applicants for Michigan in recent years.

In order to stand out from other applicants, you'll need to write your best supplemental essays. Here you can find 26 examples of Michigan essays that worked.

Since many of Michigan's prompts have stayed the same year after year, these examples answer this year's prompts.

What is Michigan's application deadline for this year?

The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor offers two admissions deadlines for Fall 2023: early action and regular decision.

For this year, Michigan's deadlines are:

  • Early Action (EA): November 1st, 2022
  • Regular Decision (RD): February 1st, 2023

Some students like transfer students may apply in Winter 2023 or Summer 2023, for which there are two deadlines:

  • Winter 2023 RD: October 1st, 2022
  • Summer 2023 RD: February 1st, 2023

What are the University of Michigan supplemental prompts for 2022-23?

This year, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor requires applicants to write two supplemental essays. The first essay is limited to 300 words while the second essay is longer, with a maximum of 550 words.

The Michigan supplemental prompts are:

1. Community Essay (Required for all applicants.)

Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (100-300 words)

2. Why Michigan Essay (Required for all applicants.)

Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? (100-550 words)

26 University of Michigan, Ann Arbor EssaysThatWorked

Check out these 26 Michigan essays that worked.

Below you can read example supplemental essays for Michigan, as well as Common App essays from admitted students.

Get inspired and start writing your own successful Michigan essays.

Prompt: Communities and Groups

  • 1. Christian Faith
  • 2. Horseback Riding
  • 3. Youth Court
  • 4. Two Sides
  • 5. Marching Band Family
  • 6. Chinese Christian Church
  • 7. Whitman Navigators
  • 8. Diverse Community
  • 9. The Nabe

Prompt: Area of Study / Why Michigan?

  • 10. Education Program
  • 11. Business Opportunities
  • 12. Engineering at Michigan
  • 13. Economics and Political Science
  • 14. Michigan Faculty
  • 15. Interdisciplinary Learning
  • 16. Michigan Opportunities
  • 17. School of Kinesiology

Prompt: Extracurricular Activity

  • 18. Summer in the City
  • 19. Riding Horses
  • 20. Restorative Justice
  • 23. Speech and Debate
  • 25. Soccer Lessons
  • 26. Playing Horn

1. Michigan Community Essay: "Christian Faith"

Prompt: Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (100-300 words)

I am a member of the Grosse Pointe chapter of YoungLife, a non-denominational Christian youth group. However, I wouldn't necessarily consider myself a "Christian."

My relationship with God is exactly that—mine. I sometimes question certain Christian teachings and beliefs, and I'm not 100 percent sure that I am officially any one religion.

This is not only OK, but encouraged at YoungLife; the motto of the organization is "Come as you are." The differences between myself and the person sitting next to me at Sunday Club don't matter there.

Our diverging ideas and opinions, some of which may be about religion itself, become white noise as we sing along with the leaders to start each Club at the YoungLife House. My understanding of Christianity can be polar opposite of that person—my friend—next to me, but we are connected in the Club's universal idea of being yourself and accepting others for doing the same.

I am still figuring out my individual ideologies, and I expect it to take time before I fully understand my feelings. My views may will fall within those of a Christian church, they partially could, or they might not at all. I haven't solved my religious puzzle yet, but I don't feel like an outsider because of it. The people at YoungLife respect my internal journey. They understand that I don't fully understand my religion yet.

2. Michigan Community Essay: "Horseback Riding"

As the first horse walked in for the HJAM hunter derby in May, I sat on the grassy hill overlooking the show grounds with my friends and the “big girls” for the first time. In just a few years, I would be one of the “big girls” that the younger kids would look up to. Brought together by long horse show days highlighted by donkey races in Kentucky, boat days in Traverse City, and “Ride and Drives” in Ohio, the group of riders that compete at the horse shows have become my friends for life.

Starting in the early 2010’s, when all of us rode ponies, everyone began to come out of their shell as we bonded over our love for this sport. Jumping the “kid jumps” until it was too dark, our group became inseparable, and Sundays, the last day of a horse show, became increasingly dreaded as it meant we had to say goodbye until the next show.

Trading in ponies for horses and bows for hair nets, we became engaged in much more mature activities- like water fights and golf cart races. Beginning to conquer bigger divisions and national finals, riding became more serious, however, being surrounded by this community kept it light hearted as we cheered each other on ringside.

Entering into my final junior year as a rider, I have trouble believing that I have become one of the “big girls” as it seems just yesterday I gazed up at my mentors on the hill almost a decade ago. Knowing that the friendships I have made will last a lifetime, I am forever grateful to the early mornings and long nights that brought us together and cannot wait to watch where each of us end up: both inside and outside of the ring.

3. Michigan Community Essay: "Youth Court"

A defining factor of my interests and character is membership to Ontario County Youth Court. Not only have I enjoyed the career exploration, new opportunities, and service aspects of the program, but also the people within it. Youth court provides as alternative path legal path for youth offenders. But also serves the community of members who conduct the trials. This has allowed me to gain an understanding of other people’s situations and circumstances.

After four years of dedicated membership, I have assumed leadership positions within the program. This includes acting as lead prosecutor, along with the elected chair of the Ontario County Youth Court Steering Committee. As chair, I have planned successful member outreach events such as a Halloween party and a career exploration event. By acting as a mentor and providing guidance towards my fellow members, I have encouraged others to develop a passion for youth court and law. Without this community, I would have never discovered my true passion for law, or broadened my understanding of others.

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4. Michigan Community Essay: "Two Sides"

I grew up with big glass doors in my living room, bold doors that opened to a garden on one side and a living room on the other. When you walked outside, you entered an untamed mosaic of bamboo, peonies, lavender, hummingbirds, bees and the occasional free-spirited cat. Grey stepping stones guided you through the mystical garden in a seemingly random fashion. The other side of the doors open up to a different type of community, a community where shoes and dirt weren’t allowed, corners were sharp, and the main odor was all-purpose cleaning spray.

These two worlds were separated by a mere panel of transparent doors. I believe that I am the product of both of them. These two spaces, along with my mother, formed the person that I am today. From the garden community, I learned to be pure and kind, while the indoor community warned me to also stay guarded. I’m reserved, but with a touch of confidence; forgiving but not ignorant; and perseverent yet flexible.

Things used to seem binary; I was either the garden or the room. However, I now believe that I am the living, breathing evidence that maybe life isn’t so one-sided. Maybe some us will realize that one side calls to us, while others will become the glass doors and, instead of standing on either side, experience multiple worlds.

5. Michigan Community Essay: "Marching Band Family"

As I prepared for my freshman year of high school, I was terrified I would never find my place at Grosse Pointe South. But when I started my first marching band camp a month before school began, I found the friends that would form my tightest-knit community for the next four years.

No matter how busy my schedule has become, the six hours I spend each week at marching band have remained a constant throughout high school. These friends have been the most unfailingly kind people I have met at South, and have provided me a place where I feel confident presenting myself authentically to the people around me.

As a section leader this year, I have gained experience as a supporter and motivator. My goal has been to help the underclassmen find the same community in marching band that I did.

This role has taught me a lot about collaboration. My fellow section leaders and I have shared responsibility for the quality of every performance we give and held meetings to discuss ways to improve rehearsal productivity. It has been incredible to see our hard work result in such enjoyable performances for our school and surrounding community.

The Grosse Pointe South Marching Band has become my second family throughout the last four years. I am incredibly grateful for the friends I will miss so much next year, and for the opportunity to provide underclassmen with the same kind and accepting environment that I was welcomed into four years ago.

6. Michigan Community Essay: "Chinese Christian Church"

As you walk onto my church grounds, you would be a little befuddled. What used to be a small one-story home now houses the Chinese Christian Church of Columbia--the former garage/carport is now the sanctuary, the swimming pool has been replaced with the education building, and the old house is now the kitchen and fellowship building. But the most glaring aspect is the separate services, divided by language not time. Our church walks between traditional Chinese culture and contemporary American beliefs. Many of the ABCs (American-born Chinese) and the few Americans join together for the English service, centered around more contemporary worship and disciple-building. The older immigrant population and the Chinese students from the surrounding universities gather for the Chinese service, featuring more conservative worship with hymns and focused on outreach.

Though we are divided by language and cultural barriers, we are joined together with a shared faith. While I call the English congregation home, I occasionally serve on the worship team for the Chinese service and as an interpreter for joint adult and youth events (when the Chinese and English service join together). While I serve in both congregations, my main focus is the children’s ministry where I am a Sunday school teacher and an activities coordinator. Every week, I love walking into the classroom, seeing the happy faces of curious children ready to learn new Bible stories despite their occasional rowdy and disobedient behavior. While the students learn, I share the same search for answers in my faith. With my church being a melting pot of cultures and language, we work to push aside those barriers to be joined together under one faith. Despite the challenges, the tight-knit community that has sprung up from our tiny house church has won my heart.

7. Michigan Community Essay: "Whitman Navigators"

I quit keeping track of how many times I've said "Hi, welcome to Whitman!" after my first Back-to-School-Night. As a member of the Whitman Navigator team for three years, I've greeted a few hundred parents, oriented three classes of freshmen, and built lasting friendships with fellow Navigators and staff. Navigators are Whitman students who lead Freshman Orientation and Back-to-School-Night, as well as give tours to transfer students.

In this capacity, I've worked with our two principals, Dr. Goodwin (now retired) and Dr. Dodd, on building a more welcoming Whitman. The community I love best is that of my high school, Walt Whitman. My place is similar to that of a Walmart Greeter, in that I am the first person freshmen see when they enter the front door. Using my school spirit and three years' experience, I enthusiastically guide these freshmen through their first encounter with this large, and often intimidating, new community.

Last year, I received my first question that I couldn't answer. As a chorus student, my knowledge of the Fine Arts at Whitman is limited; when a freshman asked me about ceramics courses, I paused and pondered. Rather than providing her with false information, I said, "I actually couldn't tell you.

At the end of orientation, I'll refer you to Gianni, a Navigator who took ceramics last year." The closeness of the Navigator community meant that I knew the right person to answer her question. Here I was, answering the freshman's question in a position of authority, when only four years ago I was in her shoes. Navigators granted me the opportunity to help others acclimate to the school, and I developed leadership traits through which I could guide people successfully.

8. Michigan Community Essay: "Diverse Community"

In my hometown, you can hear the cows moo and the tractors hum. The smell of manure might only be overtaken by the fumes of a Ford F-150. Farms line the sides of the roads I take to school. I have lived in rural Carroll County, Maryland my whole life. I have grown to love it. The people are friendly, neighborhoods are safe, and schools are good. However, there is one main issue. Everyone here is white.

While visiting the University of Michigan, I noticed the treelined campus. I pictured myself meeting peers in the dorms and classrooms. I was overwhelmed when I stepped into the Big House. But the thing that stood out the most was the diversity of Ann Arbor. Being in a place where a variety of ethnicities is so prevalent was a wake-up call to what I have been missing my whole life.

The diverse community of the University of Michigan is a place where I could see myself thrive. Being around and learning from people with unique backgrounds has been a rare commodity in my life. Around the age of thirteen, I realized what I had been missing within Carroll County, so I joined a soccer team in a more diverse neighboring county. This team gave me a taste of what life is like away from my rural hometown.

In college I want to belong to a society of people all different from each other. I would be able to learn so many valuable life lessons. University of Michigan is a place where I could share my story, as well as take in the stories of many different people. In college, I want to join a community filled with variety and open mindedness, rather than remaining in my ethnically homogenous past.

9. Michigan Community Essay: "The Nabe"

The bus took ten minutes to get home this time, not the usual thirty. This wasn’t my home, but it would essentially become just that.

The Morristown Neighborhood House is a center that provides a free and safe after-school environment for local children. While I had previously participated in various service programs, something was different about NH. Whether it was teaching long division or playing a game of chess, the bonds I established with the kids were real, human connections.

It was a privilege to be appointed service coordinator at the end of my junior year. But, I wanted to further immerse myself into “the Nabe.” While there were various summer options, I felt that there couldn’t be a better choice than signing up to be a camp counselor at the Nabe.

The kids became family; through sarcophagus art projects, writing practice, Xbox tournaments, implicit bias discussions, and trips to the park, they became the little siblings I never had. When I brought in ice cream for all of them on my birthday, I was showered with hugs. No foreign exchange trip could outdo that.

I am a member of many communities based on my geography, ethnicity, interests, and talents, but the most meaningful community is the one that I never thought I would be a part of. Bryan, Genesis, Justin, John, Christian, Jason, Jazarah, Jaeden, Steven, Angelique, Isabella... and Yajur.

On that first bus ride to the Nabe, I never saw it coming.

10. Why Michigan: "Education Program"

Prompt: Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? (100-550 words)

Growing up, I always pictured myself as a great teacher as an adult. With the second best secondary education program in the country and an emphasis on the liberal arts and undergraduate education, I am confident that U-M will shape me into the great educator I’ve dreamed of becoming since I was a kid.

Hallmarks of a liberal arts education include teamwork, problem-solving, clear writing, and effective communication. These are also skills that any exceptional teacher needs. U-M offers an unparalleled curriculum that prepares students to successfully run classrooms and obtain Provisional Teacher Certifications upon graduation, exposing students to diverse classes and people in Ann Arbor, and providing them with an invaluable liberal arts education along the way.

Being an effective teacher means connecting with and stimulating all students at its core. The liberal arts foundation I will receive in the College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts (LSA), married with the experiential education and training the School of Education (SoE) will provide, will mold me into that great teacher—a mentor and role model for any student, regardless of creed—I’ve always aspired to become.

The Teacher Education Preferred Admission (TEPA) for incoming freshmen piqued my interest because the program is the crossroad between the liberal arts and teacher education; two components I was looking for in a college. TEPA will allow me to build a strong liberal arts base in LSA my first two years on campus before entering SoE, while also gaining beneficial experiences in the education field early on.

The education-oriented programs WE READ and Students Empowering Education specifically appealed to me because they will bridge my liberal arts education with my anticipated career as a high school English teacher. Similarly, my Spanish classes will have a practical application in the Ann Arbor Language Partnership, a program that immediately interested me as a potential Spanish minor.

During my first two years as a pre-admit, I'll be supported by my TEPA peers and staff, specifically from my SoE personal adviser. TEPA will take the large campus and make it feel smaller, allowing me to form organic connections with like-minded people and groups that can cultivate my interest in education before entering SoE junior year.

I need a meaningful education to be a meaningful educator. Truthfully, I could go to almost any college to become a teacher, but only schools that synthesize in- and out-of-classroom learning like SoE produce great ones. U-M ranking sixth in the country for undergraduate teaching bolstered my interest in the university and confirmed what I already knew: I will receive an education in LSA and SoE that will change who I am as a person and not just a student, and prepare me to provide the same for others as a teacher.

The great educator I’ve always envisioned myself becoming is one that can inspire without bounds. From my time as a student, I’ve come to realize that a truly influential teacher can work with students who have little in common with themselves and still be impactful. LSA's purposeful and broad curriculum, paired with SoE's hands-on courses and fieldwork, and the additional opportunities available through TEPA, will shape me into that life-changing teacher, for any student who walks through my classroom door.

11. Why Michigan: "Business Opportunities"

Growing up in a community that bleeds maize and blue, the community represented by the University of Michigan has always been one that I could see myself representing as both a student and alumni. From football games at the big house to classes at Ross, each and every opportunity available at U of M represents a piece of my life that I hope to continue to incorporate into my life for the rest of my life.

The opportunity to take courses that allow for enriched experiences in developing a real business is one that I intend to be involved in as soon as possible. I will use this type of class as a way to test my skills and learn where I need to become stronger as a leader and student. Watching others equally driven as me, their tactics that are successful and not successful will imprint on how I attack problems in the future and shape my overall leadership style.

By being involved in the Multidisciplinary Action Projects down the road as a graduate student, I hope to learn firsthand what it takes to run and be involved with real businesses. Firsthand exposure is the best way to learn how to solve problems- especially surrounded by peers who are equally as driven and dedicated as I am.

Filled with students striving for nothing but the best they are capable of is a community that I am certain I will enrich and fit into. By sharing ideas and collaborating together instead of against each other, each and every one of us will contribute to the business world as leaders and innovators.

The University of Michigan is a place I can see myself learning and growing as a leader for the next four years as I intend to use all of the tools at my disposal to become a top business person. The opportunities within the school I will be involved in and the peers that I will work beside only enrich the values of what being a Wolverine mean to me.

12. Why Michigan: "Engineering at Michigan"

The University of Michigan’s College of Engineering has a proactive approach to career path discovery and job search. While I do hope to aspire to a corporate attorney, an engineering degree from the University of Michigan would provide me the advantage of readiness.

U.S News and World Report published an article about challenges law school applicants with STEM degrees face. Number one was the lack of research skills. Michigan Undergraduate Engineering has research opportunities for all undergraduate students. I hope to even take advantage of The College of Engineering (CoE) International Internship Program. The chance to see the world and contribute to the world-class studies conducted by Michigan Engineering students is a unique quality. The article also reported that STEM applicants often lack job experience. Michigan Engineering hosts internship fairs, which even freshman can participate in. By utilizing the opportunity to work in a professional setting, I will be more adapt to presenting myself in a mature and respectable manor in a corporate setting.

Many people are puzzled by my aspirations to become a corporate lawyer with an engineering degree. While I enjoy learning about many areas of study, math and science have always peaked my interest. Like my attraction to law, I am drawn to the definitiveness of engineering specifically. While there is a right and wrong in methods and procedures, there is a chance to be creative; for the end goal is functionality. Law requires critical thinking, problem solving, and the questioning of presented facts and figures. These skills are also encompassed in Michigan Engineering. With a technical understanding of industry and engineering, I will be able to more accurately represent a corporation. Like the professors at Michigan Engineering, I hope to be an expert in my field. At Michigan Engineering, I will be educated by the best of the best. Professors that have been exposed to their fields in every aspect; allowing them to provide the best guidance to students. Instead of just presenting facts and figures in a courtroom, I will be able to understand and explain them.

13. Why Michigan: "Economics and Political Science"

In my junior year microeconomics class, my teacher extensively explored the ways in which people from different socioeconomic classes were affected by our economic system. I was frustrated by the ways our country forces those living in poverty to spend the little money they have on taxable goods. I began to empathize with them. How can people pull themselves out of poverty if their government seems to be working against them? More than anything, I was frustrated that I felt powerless to help them in any way.

Those lessons inspired and motivated me. I had always looked at economics as nothing more than an analysis of business models and resource allocation. I began to see it as a way to fix fundamental problems in our society, from examining the effects of healthcare expansion on crime and poverty rates to studying how shifts in our political climate affect how our country’s financial process will change. I now see economics as a way to help those in need in my country and throughout the world.

I volunteered after school for Representative Dingell and had the opportunity to attend numerous events hosted by the Ford School. Again and again, I was impressed by the extent of the Ford School’s student involvement in critical issues. Through my work with the Congresswoman, I was able to gain a greater understanding of how different groups of people were affected by shifts in political and economic priorities. My goal is to become a civil rights attorney or study economics as a way to promote sustainable growth in developing nations.

I want to begin my studies at the University of Michigan in LSA to gain a foundation in economics and political science-related courses. After my first year, I hope to gain admission to the Ford School. The connections that LSA and Ford have to Poverty Solutions solidified by interest in the University of Michigan. If I attended these schools as an undergraduate student, I would be able to assist with research on the causes and ramifications of poverty. Professor Michael Barr’s research on policy initiatives and our financial system is fascinating from the perspective of a prospective economics major. At the University of Michigan, I would be able to join teams of renowned researchers working toward the betterment of our society and our world.

The range of schools working in connection with Poverty Solutions is evidence of the University’s devotion to civic engagement. I would be able to participate in groundbreaking research regarding issues I am interested in; I would have the ability to study poverty and ways to stunt or alleviate its effects in other countries. As someone hoping to pursue a career in public service, it is truly incredible to have the opportunity to join a research community specifically geared toward solving problems I am passionate about solving.

I want to join the University of Michigan’s legacy of innovators. I want to be part of the LSA community, studying economics and political science. I want to attend the Ford School and understand how policy in America and abroad has an effect on global poverty. I want to be involved with the Poverty Solutions Initiative, conducting groundbreaking research on the ways we can reform our financial system to better serve the lower and middle classes.

14. Why Michigan: "Michigan Faculty"

Riding the elevator to the seventh floor of Haven Hall, my heart was practically leaping out of my chest. I was meeting with Dr. Jenna Bednar of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts Department of Political Science, and as I recalled her credentials- B.A. in Political Science from Michigan, M.A. and PhD in Political Science from Stanford- I felt increasingly out of place. As a junior in high school with limited political experience, I am grateful that she agreed to take time out of her day to meet with me and answer my numerous questions about LSA, Michigan, and political theory.

Upon entering her office, my eyes were drawn to bookshelves full of political literature, from the classics like De Tocqueville and Locke (which I read in a summer college program in 2017), to her own recently published work, The Robust Federation. Encouraged by her broad smile and having just completed an official campus tour, I launched into my questions. Dr. Bednar described the connections she and her students have made at Michigan, through LSA and in general.

This revealed to me that the faculty would take a personal interest in my academic career. We discussed the average class size in LSA and the Department of Political Science, her academic background, and how to survive Michigan winters. Dr. Bednar then brought my attention to the benefits that LSA Political Science gives its students.

For example, as head of the Michigan in Washington program, Dr. Bednar's passion for both political science and education was evident as she introduced me to one of Michigan's most influential academic programs. Although I hail from two miles outside the D.C. border, I aspire to participate in the Michigan in Washington program, to build on my internship of the past year with my delegate to the Maryland General Assembly.

Under his guidance, I conducted nationwide policy research, attended civic association meetings and development forums, and traveled to our state capitol to watch the legislative process unfold. Consequently, an internship at the federal level is my logical next step toward building the foundations of a political career.

Dr. Bednar, upon hearing about my internship with my delegate, suggested that I think about the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. I believe that this research program offers a unique means of building my understanding of political science. I am eager to apply to the UROP program in hopes of furthering my research skills within the complex political landscape of today. Furthermore, the variety of courses that I can explore as a political science major is remarkable: from "Sports, Politics, and Society", to "Nations and Nationalism," the scope of topics will keep me engaged.

When I sat down with Dr. Bednar, I expected a five-minute chat; I received forty-five minutes of helpful advice, political theorizing, and well wishes. Leaving her office, I felt energized and ready to dive into LSA Political Science right there. Her demeanor helped to build my confidence to boldly seek connections in my search for knowledge. I saw the Michigan difference firsthand, from various undergraduate opportunities for political science, to a universal love for the school from students and faculty alike.

15. Why Michigan: "Interdisciplinary Learning"

My favorite class in high school was also my hardest. It was World Culture/World Literature, an hour and a half each day of seeing history, art, and literature not as separate entities but as intricately connected, one incomplete without the other. I learned to see humanism in Greek sculpture, religious propaganda in the chiaroscuro of Baroque paintings, disillusionment in modern art. Although seemingly unrelated to my STEM-leaning interests, the analytical skills I learned there would prove invaluable in neuroscience research. Connecting electroencephalography results to mechanisms for chronic pain relief wasn’t all too different from drawing links between historical movements and paintings; both required an intimate knowledge of background information and a willingness to take risks, to see new relationships and forge unprecedented connections.

LSA embodies precisely this mentality, fostering interdisciplinary learning and problem-solving. With classes like “Health, Biology, and Society: What is Cancer?”, bridging humanistic and biological approaches to disease, and graduation requirements ranging from Natural Sciences to Race and Ethnicity, LSA prepares students for the real world, where problems necessitate not just single-minded expertise but also a diverse understanding of other factors involved. My internship experience only confirmed the practicality of this perspective; we used mindfulness meditation alongside spinal cord stimulation technologies to treat chronic pain.

This mindset is not confined to learning inside the classroom. The LSA Opportunity Hub is robust, connecting students to internships at Nike, Forbes, and the US Department of Education, among other places. To intern as a research assistant at Mayo Clinic, to use mathematical models to predict brain tumor growth like current Michigan junior Tatum Doyle would be an unequalled opportunity. Her work in incorporating mathematical concepts in medical research personifies the LSA culture, where problems are best solved holistically. LSA’s interdisciplinary approach does not detract from fostering specialization and excellence in specific fields, but adds; its Biochemistry program promotes innovation and independence in its students and is ranked top in the nation.

I remember boiling down cabbage with my dad to make acid/base indicators. In elementary school, my teacher wrote that I had been spending too much time reading animal books and too little time playing with other kids. I loved (and still love) all things living, often marvelling at the complexity of the animal kingdom, the human body, the organs, and the cells that were the foundation for everything else. The first time I read about the process of translation, of rendering mRNA into proteins, my eyes filled with tears; this is what I wanted to do, to apply the chemistry that had defined my childhood to my love of biology.

LSA shares that passion, dedicating a plethora of resources, both intellectual and material, to its Biochemistry department. With equipment like atomic absorption spectrophotometers, classes in Endocrinology, and distinguished professors, the University of Michigan has everything any biochemistry undergraduate student would need, and much more. To research under a PI like Dr. Kopelman, winner of the J. William Fulbright Research Award, would be a dream fulfilled. His work in employing 5-dimensional chemical imaging to visualize and treat tumors does what LSA does best; it uses an interdisciplinary approach to make academic discoveries both relevant and essential in the real world. It is a culture I would be honored to take part in, should I be accepted.

16. Why Michigan: "Michigan Opportunities"

Sweat drips down my face onto homework in front of me.

I just got home from a soccer game; I’m not stressed. This is until I realize I still have a plethora of edits to make on my lab report as well as emails to write for an upcoming NHS event. AND I have three tests the next day.

Although stressful, I enjoy every minute of juggling a variety of academics and extracurriculars. I appreciate all the opportunities my high school offers to me and I take advantage of as many as I can handle. Thanks to my involved years of high school, I have received a great education as well as many experiences I would never trade away.

Entering my senior year and researching universities I may want to attend, there is one question which continuously presents itself. What do I want to major in when I get to college? It is a scary question and I have never known the answer. Despite participating in many extracurriculars such as National Honor Society, Science Olympiad, Math Honor Society, and Future Business Leaders of America, I still have no idea what I want to do with my life.

As a student at LSA, I would be able to use the abundance of resources to explore possibilities for life after college. Since I am one of the many college applicants who has not decided upon a major, a large, liberal arts college like LSA is the perfect place for me to discover more about myself, pursue interests, and find my purpose. I have considered medicine, business, economics, and law. The two courses I have enjoyed the most are biomedical sciences and US History. I am truly all over the map!

With so much variety at LSA, I would be able to change majors or take a diverse group of classes so that I could find what I want to study. LSA is unique from its University of Michigan counterparts because it offers a broader range of departments, majors, and courses. The flexibility at LSA would help me discover what I want my life to be like while supporting me through my journey.

Additionally, LSA provides students with multiple opportunities not found anywhere else at University of Michigan. One program that caught my eye was Michigan Learning Communities. This program appeals to me because having the resources of this large university, yet finding a niche in the community to challenge myself and others, can help me grow as a student and a person. Similarly, the Opportunity Hub at LSA jumped out at me as I researched the University and toured the school. I would take full advantage of the great connections the Opportunity Hub provides, as it could help me find an internship or job offer when the perfect time comes. MLCs, the Opportunity Hub, and the many other programs which LSA offers are the main reasons why LSA would be the best college fit for me.

I was initially drawn to the University of Michigan by the beautiful campus, great athletics programs, unmatched prestige, and massive alumni network. However, as I dove deeper, I discovered LSA, a school that can help me realize my purpose and passions while providing a focused learning environment to lead me to a bright future.

17. Why Michigan: "School of Kinesiology"

Throughout my college search, I had yet to come across the perfect undergraduate school for my interests. The safe pick was always the standard “College of Arts and Sciences” or its equivalent, with the most varied options for me to craft my experience. Something was different about Michigan. I didn’t need to craft my own academic experience at another university when the perfect one was already designed here: The School of Kinesiology’s Movement Science program.

In my house, we never eat scrambled eggs. We eat denatured albumin and yolk proteins served with a sprinkling of sodium chloride; cooking was chemistry, not just a chore. From a young age, my parents have cultivated a sense of curiosity in me. So when I injured my left wrist in the summer before freshman year, it was so much more than just an injury. I researched more into my growth plate dislocation and radial fracture. I got to see the details of the procedure, the recovery process, and the gradual reversion of my X-rays to a normal wrist image. This fascinating journey got me through an otherwise disappointing summer: no basketball and no french horn.

While the seeds were planted during my injury, they didn’t start blooming until I spent a week shadowing Dr. Kesavan Ramanujan in the Royal United Hospital, Bath, England. I realized that the field of orthopedics was a field where I could visually identify a problem, come up with a solution, implement the solution through operation, and help someone progress to full recovery. The gratification on the doctor’s faces when their recovered patients came back to visit them was infectious. While this trip was my first time staying abroad without my family, the biggest takeaway for me was that I had found a career I was truly interested in.

My volunteer work at the Robert Wood Johnson Hospital Physiotherapy Clinic has only strengthened this notion. While my work as a volunteer may be the more routine tasks: making schedules, doing paperwork, cleaning the beds and the gym, setting up hot packs, cold packs, and stimulation pads, I have learned so much about the subtle details of patient interaction through what I absorb from the physical therapists. Even if a PT is having a bad day, they have taught me how important it is to have a smile on your face for the next patient coming through the doors. They have also taught me how much of an intersection there is between teaching and medicine/therapy.

These experiences draw me to the School of Kinesiology, and specifically the Movement Science program. The opportunity to actively engage with skeletomuscular system studies as opposed to solely classroom learning appeals to me, as do the extensive research opportunities. The specialized IONM Intraoperative Neuromonitoring Program-- the only accredited IONM program in the world-- would give me the chance to engage in an exciting, interdisciplinary curriculum that cannot be found anywhere else.

From scrambled eggs to broken bones; from British adventures to lessons learned in the RWJ clinic. Discovering my passion for orthopedics and movement science has already been an exhilarating ride; yet, these have all been just the beginning steps of my journey. I cannot think of a better place to continue than the University of Michigan.

18. Michigan Extracurricular Activity: "Summer in the City"

Prompt: If you could only do one of the activities you have listed in the Activities section of your Common Application, which one would you keep doing? Why? (150 words max)

I would chose to continue my involvement with Summer in the City, a nonprofit that empowers young citizens to revitalize Detroit through beautification and youth engagement, because I believe heavily in the power and potential of two things: Detroit and young people.

At SITC, I can see the difference I’m making through the murals I paint and the kids I play with. With each brush stroke, I am moving the city one step in a positive direction. And with each high five from my “buddy” at the camp, I feel like I am part of the grassroots, youth-driven movement the city needs.

19. Michigan Extracurricular Activity: "Riding Horses"

For as long as I can remember, riding horses has played an integral part of my day to day life. It has taught me more than I could learn anywhere else and truly morphed my character forever. Riding has become a key part of my identity. Spending 30+ hours a week at the barn in addition to nearly 20 weekends of the year at horse shows, it has shown me the impact that long term effort has on success. This time commitment has also allowed me to make close friends that I hope to stay connected with for the rest of my lifetime. Riding has ultimately become more than a sport to me, but rather part of my life: a part of my life that I will treasure for as long as I am alive.

20. Michigan Extracurricular Activity: "Restorative Justice"

With my aspirations to pursue a career in law, I would continue with youth court. Restorative justice is a concept that repairs damages and restores harmony. Instead of merely correcting illegal actions, an offender is integrated back into the community as a productive member of society. As a member, this is the greatest sense of satisfaction. Allowing someone the chance to change truly displays why I have remained devoted to the program for years.

At the University of Michigan, I would continue my restorative justice journey by involving myself in the Office of Student Conflict Resolution. I understand people have faults, which lead to disputes. With my vast experience with a variety of cases, I can assist others in making amends. Therefore, I am hopeful that I would be selected as a Student Resolution Panelist to be further educated on methods and approaches using restorative justice.

21. Michigan Extracurricular Activity: "Nanny"

Working as a nanny has taught me much more than any club or organization could. Growing up with a single mom, I wasn’t always the primary focus: I had to learn how to take care of myself and carve my own path. Now, being a nanny enables me to be a role model and guide for kids whose parents might not have the time or ability to do so. And as the child of a working parent, I’m also aware of the constant stress parents are under.

Not only does being a nanny teach me how to handle the responsibilities of caring for a child, it also allows me to reminisce on my childhood. Whether I’m helping David with his Spanish homework, teaching Edward how to say hi, or finding Leprechaun footprints with William, I can feel the unique impact I’m making on their lives, an impact which is irreplaceable.

22. Michigan Extracurricular Activity: "DECA"

Throughout middle school and my freshman year of high school, I was a mouse. I was terrified of making a spectacle of myself. The first time I walked into a DECA meeting -- one of only five girls in a group of 50, and the only freshman -- I nearly turned around and left.

Since that day, I have earned three medals and been named a state finalist. That mousey freshman would never believe I could receive statewide recognition for a competition that required me to communicate my ideas to strangers. Walking into my first meeting was a huge step outside my comfort zone. Since then, my experiences in competitions have given me a breakthrough in self-confidence, and for that I am especially grateful. Not only has DECA enhanced my high school career, but it has helped me learn to take pride in myself and my ideas.

23. Michigan Extracurricular Activity: "Speech and Debate"

Since September of sophomore year, I have been attempting to persuade everyone and everything, from walls, to friends, to rearview mirrors, to agree with me. Through competitive topics in Speech & Debate, I'm learning how today’s issues affect American teens. From analyzing drug culture and its impact on youth, to assessing politics' role plays in dating, I'm granted the opportunity to broaden my perspective.

In the process, I'm meeting some of the most intelligent and fascinating students at tournaments. The Speech community is a creative outlet where I'm comfortable having my ideas challenged and challenging others. I plan to join the Michigan Debate team, and help coach high school Speech teams in Ann Arbor (my coaches are college students), because I believe that every teenager should be encouraged to critically explore current events, while getting comfortable speaking to inanimate objects, judges, and competitors in the process.

24. Michigan Extracurricular Activity: "EMT"

I love being an EMT. I love the urgency of working in an ambulance, the way my heart quickens and my mind focuses when providing emergency patient care. But most of all, I love helping individuals in my community in a way most other people can’t. As EMT's, we’re endowed with the opportunity to intervene at the most critical points in a person's life, to provide calm and stability in life-or-death situations.

These are moments cemented in their memories, ones that define their conception of hardship and struggle. Every call I run presents a chance to make a permanent difference, from a classmate’s suicide attempt to a stranger’s car accident. By being there and providing compassion within chaos, I cherish the opportunity to positively influence each of my patient's lives. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

25. Michigan Extracurricular Activity: "Soccer Lessons"

The activity which I am most passionate about and plan to continue is soccer. Soccer has taught me multiple skills applicable to all aspects of life. These include leadership, teamwork, and work ethic. As captain of the soccer team, I have taken away various lessons I can apply in life. For instance, I have improved not only giving constructive criticism, but also receiving it- something which I am still working toward. Similarly, I have learned to be a better teammate, as soccer is reliant on playing together. Most significantly, soccer has brought me a desire to work hard, as being great requires so much more than pure talent. The impact of soccer on my life has created a new challenge for my future. I would like to continue playing because I want to take what I have learned and expand on it, and ultimately teach these lessons to others.

26. Michigan Extracurricular Activity: "Playing Horn"

It started from scratch, in 4th grade band Just me, my horn, and a small music stand Not knowing where, one day, this horn would take me Not knowing it would all be so grand.

I practiced for years, my range did expand I kept working and listening to teacher’s commands I’d keep on improving, as long as I practiced Whenever I got some time on my hands.

Failures have been tough to fully withstand. Each judge’s musical taste is hard to understand. But under the bright lights of Juilliard and Lincoln Center My journey could not have been better planned.

Looking back to where I began I couldn’t have imagined where I would land Only one activity? I’d keep playing my horn You have to play it to truly understand.

What Can You Learn From These Michigan Essays?

If you want to get into the University of Michigan in 2022, you'll need to write great supplemental essays.

Here are 26 Michigan essays that worked for the 2022 supplemental prompts so you can improve your essays.

If you enjoyed reading these Michigan essays, check out essays for other top public universities like UCLA and UC Berkeley

Are you applying to Michigan? What did you think of these U of M essays?

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People love to ask why. Why do you wear a turban? Why do you have long hair? Why are you playing a guitar with only 3 strings and watching TV at 3 A.M.—where did you get that cat? Why won’t you go back to your country, you terrorist? My answer is... uncomfortable. Many truths of the world are uncomfortable...

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Her baking is not confined to an amalgamation of sugar, butter, and flour. It's an outstretched hand, an open invitation, a makeshift bridge thrown across the divides of age and culture. Thanks to Buni, the reason I bake has evolved. What started as stress relief is now a lifeline to my heritage, a language that allows me to communicate with my family in ways my tongue cannot. By rolling dough for saratele and crushing walnuts for cornulete, my baking speaks more fluently to my Romanian heritage than my broken Romanian ever could....

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A cow gave birth and I watched. Staring from the window of our stopped car, I experienced two beginnings that day: the small bovine life and my future. Both emerged when I was only 10 years old and cruising along the twisting roads of rural Maryland...

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How to Stand Out in a Community Essay for the University of Michigan

  • January 7, 2022

What does the University of Michigan want to know about you from the supplemental essay about community?

Here’s the prompt:

Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.

Kim Bryant University of Michigan

Tip #1: Show who you are outside the classroom.  “We have an amazing, vibrant, thriving community mixed up of students in athletics, strong academics, research, over 1,200 student clubs and organizations. We want to know what they do to stand out. What do they do in their community, church, high school, synagogue, mosque? What are they going to do on our campus to make a difference in the world?”

Tip #2: The essay is your interview. “We don’t do interviews, so I tell students, this is your interview. Let me know who you really are.”

Tip #3: Tell a story. “I like reading a personal story that is tied to real life. I like it when I can hear a student’s voice. Storytellers are always good.”

Before you start writing, ask yourself what you would like the university to know about you. Then brainstorm for subject ideas. Did you start a club at school? Do you spend weekends with your youth group? Do you organize basketball games for the kids in your neighborhood? Perhaps you are a member of the debate or sports team or tend a community garden. Once you find a subject, tell a story to illustrate your point.

Read more stories about writing outstanding college application essays for UM and other selective schools:

How to write the Common App personal statement How to Write the Common App Essay Top 5 College Essay Myths What’s The Biggest Mistake Students Make in their College Essays? Don’t Try So Hard to be “Unique” In College Essay How to Write Great Supplemental Essays

Before you read more about how to think about and parse any college essay supplemental prompt, consider what you think you know about the college essay. Ask yourself,  what if everything I think I know about the college essay is wrong?

There’s a good chance the information you’ve heard is indeed wrong. That’s because a lot of inaccurate and out-of-context information makes its way to you through the Internet, books, blogs, and even inside your high school hallways. It’s so important to get accurate information when you are applying to college. That’s where we come into the picture at Wow. We will always give you the most accurate information regarding the college essay, its purpose, how to write one that is effective and also captures the right kind of attention (the kind you want!) inside the admissions office.

No One Knows More than the College Essay than Wow

Want to know what else admission teams care about?  Click here.  If you want to learn more about how to write a college essay that Shawn and any admissions officer would want to read, please join me for a monthly free webinar for students (invite your bring your friends; Mom and Dad are invited, too!) We offer the  college essay class , called Everything You Think You Know About the College Essay Is WRONG, the second Wednesday of each month at 7:00 pm Eastern (February – September). In it, I take students like you through the first 4 steps of Wow’s signature process to give students a taste of our approach to the college essay. I dispel the college essay myths, share our best tips, and answer questions live.   Can’t join us live? No problem!  Just register,  and I’ll send you the recording.

There’s so much information about college essays out there, how can anyone, even a bright, talented student, tell the difference between what’s worth listening to and what’s not? That’s where I can help. I’m a journalist by training, and I only share information I have checked and double-checked, then checked again.

I go straight to the source to admissions leaders like Kim Bryant to find out what they’re looking for in application essays, and I’m excited to share what I know with you. Need more help?

Learn About the Wow Method

Wow writing workshop Kim and Susan

T he Wow Method   is broken up into ten steps. The first six steps are all about generating content, exploring your story and why it’s meaningful. This phase will likely take up the majority of time you spend on writing any given essay.

Once you are set on content, you’ll move on to the next two steps, which focus on structure. You might still revise some of your content, but in general, this phase is about restructuring the content you already have. You’ll go from the top of your essay to the bottom, reorganizing and reworking until you have a cohesive piece. Exploring content before moving on to structure makes revision easier, instead of trying to focus on both content and structure at the same time. Young writers often make this mistake, making their essay harder than it needs to be.

During the final two steps, you’ll polish your essay and make it shine. At this point in the process, your essay is almost finished. Here, you’ll tie up any loose ends, make the essay more engaging to read, and iron out any minor typos or grammatical errors that may have cropped up along the way. Saving this stage for the end means you don’t have to worry about awkward sentences while you’re still generating content. Oftentimes, those sentences don’t even make it into your final draft, so why worry about them earlier in the process?

By the end of the ten steps, you’ll have an effective college essay that’s ready to be submitted. Each individual step takes a manageable amount of time and effort, making the college essay writing process easier to wrap your head around.  Learn more about the Wow process here .

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The 10-Step College Essay Writing Process in Detail

Now that you’ve read about the Wow Method’s general stucture, we’ll go through what each step actually looks like. Before you start writing, you’ll meet with a trained Wow coach to discuss how and when you’ll complete upcoming steps, and along the way they will help you understand what each step requires in more detail.

CONTENT (Steps 1 through 6)

Step 1: understand the prompt.

In this step, you’ll answer a number of questions. To start, which prompt are you responding to?  Common App personal statement ?  Georgia Tech ‘s Why Us? Write down the prompt word-for-word so you have it as a resource. Then, consider: What is the prompt trying to find out about you? Parsing the prompt is an essential first step before any writing, or even pre-writing, can effectively be completed.

Finally, you’ll answer two related questions: What do readers already know about you, and what else do you want them to know? Readers already know a lot about you, both from your transcript and from the rest of your application. The college essay is a space to share something new, something readers wouldn’t be able to glean just from knowing what sports you’re involved in or what your ACT score is. Don’t worry about trying to figure out exactly what you’ll be writing about yet—Just list some personal characteristics you’d like readers to know, and stay positive!  We can help.

Step 2: Brainstorm Ideas

Before you decide what to write about, you’ll want to explore several ideas. Depending on which essay you are writing, you could approach this task in different ways: 

  • If you are working on your  Common Application essay , you might want to consider several different options from the choices they offer (a background story, a time when you experienced failure, a time when you challenged a belief, etc.), or you might have several ideas in one area (e.g., several background stories, several problems you have solved.)   
  • If you are responding to a prompt other than the Common Application, keep an open mind and consider various stories that could effectively show readers something meaningful about you.

By the end of this step, you’ll have a few different ideas that could effectively answer your prompt. Then, you will choose your essay topic. You can write about almost anything, as long as the topic feels genuine, fits the prompt, and shows a characteristic.  Learn more about Wow Writing Workshop .

Step 3: Focus on Theme

The theme of a college essay includes two parts:  1) What happened?  and 2)  Why does it matter?

In this step, you’ll answer these two questions for the essay topic that you chose in Step 2. All effective college essays have a clear theme: What happened? (your specific story) and Why does it matter? (the characteristic your story highlights). Your theme will help guide you throughout the rest of the writing process. 

Step 4: Free Write for Details

Free writing is an underutilized exercise by many first-time writers. In this step, you will quickly write down as much as you can recall about the story at the center of your essay. Be specific and use all of your senses, but don’t worry about sounding polished or even making sense. If it’s easier, you don’t even need to use complete sentences. The important thing here is capturing details.

Step 5: Write Draft 1

Now that you have chosen a topic and identified your theme, it’s time to start writing your essay! Don’t worry about perfection, word limits or structure. Just get your story down on paper. Remember—The details will help you tell your story. At the same time, keep your theme and your prompt in mind. This will be the first of several drafts, which will gradually develop into a strong and polished essay. Do not try to shortcut the process by focusing on structure and polish too early. We encourage you to write over the word limit in this draft. Generating plenty of content will make it easier to revise and polish later in the process.

Step 6: Review Prompt and Theme 

As you move through the content phase of the essay toward the structure phase, it can be helpful to explore the essay’s topic from a few different angles. In this step, you will write outside the essay, instead of trying to revise your first draft directly. You will also write new potential openings for your essay and consider how different starting points would affect your essay’s structure.

CONTENT + STRUCTURE (Steps 7 and 8)

Step 7: write draft 2.

You’ve now entered the structure phase of the Wow Method. From this point forward, you may revise some aspects of your essay, though a majority of your work will be to restructure the content you already have to make your essay more cohesive and effective.

To begin Step 7, you’ll review your essay and past exercises, highlighting phrases and sections that truly shine—great details, examples of your writing voice, and elements that help you answer the prompt and express your theme. You will also take notes on what you want to improve and change, before moving on to your second draft.

Even if you choose to keep large sections of your first draft, you should retype every word. It may seem easier to just copy and paste, but retyping will force you to slow down and only use the best of your first draft, while making necessary changes. You might also want to use one of your openings from Step 6, or try out a new ending.

Step 8: Review Content and Structure

This step is all about reviewing the draft that you just wrote. Go through your essay and make notes on what you like about the new draft and what still needs to be clarified. It can also be helpful to look back at your work from Steps 5 and 6 as you consider what changes did and did not work. Your coach will do the same and will give you specific feedback on your draft.


Step 9: write draft 3.

You’re now ready to retype your essay once more from start to finish , keeping your second draft close by as a reference. With an eye on you and your coach’s comments, craft this new draft by keeping what worked in Drafts 1 and 2 and revising as needed.

Along with content and structure, you should be paying attention to clarity and style. Make every word count. You can polish your writing a little bit, but don’t try to sound like anyone else. Keep asking: Why am I telling this story? What do I want admissions counselors to learn about me that they wouldn’t know from the rest of my application? 

Step 10: Final Review and Proofread

Your main goal for this step is to finish cleaning up your essay, with an eye toward grammar, spelling, and clarity. That said, perfection is not the goal. Over-editing can actually take away from your essay’s effectiveness. Your essay already has a clear theme, evocative content, and a well-honed structure. Trust the process.

Your coach will proofread your essay  to make sure that everything reads clearly and is spelled correctly. Then we’ll send it off to a professional proofreader for a final read. Once you’ve made any necessary changes, your essay is ready to be submitted!

Sample Personal Statement Student Schedule Week 1 starts Sunday

Steps 7-10 are flexible, and sometimes require extra drafts

Want to know what else admission teams care about?  Click here.  If you want to learn more about how to write a college essay that Kim Bryant and any admissions officer would want to read, please join me for a monthly free webinar for students (invite your bring your friends; Mom and Dad are invited, too!)

We offer the  college essay class , called Everything You Think You Know About the College Essay Is WRONG, the second Wednesday of each month at 7:00 pm Eastern (February – September). In it, I take students like you through the first 4 steps of Wow’s signature process to give students a taste of our approach to the college essay. I dispel the college essay myths, share our best tips, and answer questions live.Can’t join us live? No problem!  Just register,  and I’ll send you the recording.

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College Essays


The University of Michigan is one of the highest-ranked universities in the nation and is therefore a popular choice for many students, especially those in Michigan and the Midwest. At present, U-M's got a relatively low acceptance rate of just 20% .

If you're planning to apply to this coveted university, then you'll need to know how to write your best University of Michigan supplemental essay possible . Read on to learn what the University of Michigan supplemental essays entail and to get some advice on answering the various prompts. We also give you real University of Michigan essay examples and general tips for producing a great college essay.

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What Are the University of Michigan Supplemental Essays?

All applicants to the University of Michigan are required to submit two supplemental essays  in addition to a personal statement written in response to a prompt in the Common Application. 

So in total — and regardless of your major — you'll have to write three University of Michigan essays.

Although you'll have several prompts to choose from for your Common App/Coalition App essay, you'll only get one prompt for each University of Michigan supplemental essay (meaning you don't get to choose a prompt).

Here are the University of Michigan essay prompts you must answer for the 2022-2023 supplement:

Essay 1: Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (Required for all applicants; minimum 100 words/maximum 300 words)

Essay 2: Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? (Required for all applicants; minimum 100 words/maximum 300 words)

Each University of Michigan supplemental essay has its own maximum word limit, with Essay 2's limit (550 words) being a bit longer than Essay 1's (300 words). For both essays, you must write at least 100 words.

The University of Michigan Essay Prompts, Analyzed

Now that we've gone over the basic essay requirements, let's take a closer look at each University of Michigan supplemental essay and how you can answer the prompt effectively.


University of Michigan Supplemental Essay 1

Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (Required for all applicants; minimum 100 words/maximum 300 words)

This essay prompt wants to know what makes you unique and what community you see yourself as belonging to. In other words, you're being asked to write a diversity essay , which focuses on you as an individual and what you have contributed to and gained from your specific community.

Through this essay, the University of Michigan admissions committee hopes to learn more about your values, goals, hardships, and achievements. This is why it's important to be your authentic self . Admissions officers will definitely be able to tell if you are exaggerating or making things up. Avoid trying to sound like someone else — write about what's important to you personally.

The prompt gives some examples of possible communities, but here are some more:

  • Your gender identity
  • Your sexual orientation
  • Your school
  • Your neighborhood
  • Your disability
  • A rare or strange talent you have
  • A particular club or organization you are a member of
  • Do you have any distinct characteristic that has defined you for much of your life? (This could be your ethnicity, race, or religion, for example.)
  • How would other people describe you? Ask your family and friends.
  • Do you have an uncommon or unique skill, interest, or experience?

Once you know what community you've chosen to write about, think about how this community has influenced you and your goals .

For example, maybe you grew up in a military family and had to move to new states and countries a lot as a child. You could discuss how this experience was isolating at first but how you eventually came to know other kids in military families, developing a sort of support network. Now you credit your experiences with moving with helping you learn to adapt quickly to new environments.

One compelling way you can let readers learn about your experience with your community is by telling your story through a specific anecdote , conversation you had, challenge you faced, etc.

You should also mention how you see your role in this community now . Has this role changed over time, or not? Why do you suppose so? For instance, maybe you used to be ashamed of your Navajo heritage but since having met other Navajo people your age, you now consider yourself a proud advocate for Native Americans and other indigenous groups around the world.

Finally, show, don't tell . Use imagery and realism to grab your readers and make them feel what you felt, see what you saw. Literary devices can help you more clearly describe your experience(s) with your community.


University of Michigan Supplemental Essay 2

Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? (Required for all applicants; minimum 100 words/maximum 300 words)

You've got a higher word limit for this second University of Michigan supplemental essay than you do for the first one, so be prepared to dig deeper into your topic.

With this essay prompt, you're being asked, "Why U-M?" In other words, you need to write a "why this college" essay , with a focus on how the University of Michigan will be a fantastic fit for you and your academic goals.

Here, you're told directly what to write about: the "unique qualities" of the specific school/college at U-M to which you're applying. This means you could focus on traits such as these in your essay:

  • Specific classes U-M offers that you're interested in taking
  • A required curriculum that appeals to you in some way
  • A particular professor you're excited to work with
  • A lecture series or other program your school/college/department puts on
  • A certain building, lab, or campus facility you can't wait to use
  • Extracurricular activities or clubs related to your major or academic interests
  • Career advice and internship opportunities (e.g., what's offered via the LSA Opportunity Hub )

With this essay, you'll need to be extremely specific to be effective . The admissions committee wants to see that you know what distinguishes U-M from other equally renowned universities and that you have a clear idea of how you'll take advantage of the benefits offered here to further your own intellectual and professional pursuits.

You should also talk about what you hope to do and accomplish at the University of Michigan . For example, perhaps you're planning to major in Korean and are eager to attend the Nam Center for Korean Studies' Colloquium Series so you can get a better grasp of the kinds of topics currently being addressed by academics in the field of Korean studies.

If you're not sure what to write about, browse your college/school's official U-M web pages to get a feel for what types of amenities, events, activities, classes, and support it offers undergrads.

You can also try asking current students or recent graduates about their experiences at Michigan and what resources, classes, and/or professors they recommend. Reddit and College Confidential are two good places to look for student opinions.

As you write, take care to avoid overly general descriptions— focus instead on what makes U-M stand apart from other schools you're applying to .


2 Real University of Michigan Essay Examples + Analysis

Sometimes seeing a real essay can give you a better idea of how you can approach and work on your own statement. Below we give you two University of Michigan essay examples written by a real admitted student , along with analysis as to what makes them work.

University of Michigan Essay Example 1

This first essay example is from a student on Reddit who was admitted to U-M in early 2018 (for the academic year starting in fall 2018). It is in response to prompt #1 above.

"Alice, I'm-I'm trans," he stammered.

My school's theatre group is an ever-expanding Ohana; to quote Disney's Lilo and Stitch , "Ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind."

While this movie had over-prepared me for laser-beaming alien invasions, there was nothing about helping someone come out. Nevertheless, this was the person with whom I laughed, cried, and held hands through curtain calls; this was no alien, but a sibling. He was family.

Although theatre kids love performing for an audience, more importantly, we share an unconditional love for one another. Arriving in Pennsylvania as an international transfer student, I found myself twice removed from Hill's popular social scene, and it was the theatre company who welcomed me without ever questioning my self-worth. They became the anchor of my tempest-tossed first year; in them I found a home.

Thus, when my friend came out to me, I could only give him the love that I once received. When our cast misused his pronouns and name, I corrected them. Together, we transformed gender-specific roles into gender-neutral ones so everyone could partake in our productions. Off-stage, I held him as he grappled with his family's reaction. I grew into an advocate for queer students, both within the theatre company and at school as the co-president of Hill's gay-straight alliance, a position that I have held for two years. I look out for the "othered", lost, and lonely; I welcome them to a family that will never leave them behind.

Here's what makes this University of Michigan supplemental essay work:

  • It's got an interesting hook. Starting the essay with a real quotation from someone close to the applicant gives us a real, unfiltered look into this student's life and how she interacts with those in her identified community.
  • It's unapologetically honest. The student explains how she, too, has struggled with making friends and how the theatre company—her newfound community—ultimately helped her to feel welcome. In return, she actively supports her friend and goes out of her way to advocate for gay and transgender rights through her school's gay-straight alliance. She clearly cares very deeply about others.

University of Michigan Essay Example 2

This next essay example is from the same student on Reddit who got into U-M in early 2018. It is in response to prompt #2 above.

"Could Freud's theory of Eros and Thanatos apply to civilizations, especially with regard to their domination and subservience?" I asked, Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince in my hand. Having spent the first two months of senior year reading political treatises, poems, psychological and anthropological works in a History course, this was the first time these texts intersected in my mind. Suddenly, history assumed a completely new form. No more was it only a series of discrete events, but it had blossomed into all the knowledge that this world had to offer, and my desire to explore humanity in multiple ways, instead of restricting myself to only one avenue, would similarly flourish at Michigan's College of Life, Science, and the Arts due to its emphasis on interdisciplinary learning.

As a child of a trilingual mother, I have grown to appreciate integrative learning: to explain how the world worked, my mother employed English and Russian, languages that she knew of, where Vietnamese failed. My initial hunger to overcome these linguistic boundaries has risen since to social and humanitarian ones as well, for as there are words without equivalents, there are communities whose disenfranchisement are unparalleled and cannot be resolved without understanding the history of civil rights worldwide. I will attain such a global outlook in LSA's Residential College program. With its smaller class size and emphasis on communal learning, the program and the varied experience of my fellow RC students will open my eyes to issues I have yet to undergo.

As a future activist, I will harness my education to benefit marginalized groups in underdeveloped, post-colonial countries. As a Social Theory and Practice (STP) and International Studies double major with a specialization in Comparative Culture and Identity (CCI), I will critique and analyze the role of institutions in the global context of behavioral expressions. These skills facilitate the execution of policies that will empower disenfranchised citizens to overcome their legal and economic struggles. Courses such as "Intergroup Conflict and Coexistence: Religion, Ethnicity and Culture" will equip me with important tools with which I can drive social change. Moreover, STP offerings, particularly "History and Theory of Punishment," allow me to craft an education aimed at creating legislations and organizations that will address the social inequality of ethnic and religious minorities in former colonies in Southeast Asia. Finally, I will tie this knowledge to reality by pursuing an STP Honors thesis.

Outside of the classroom, I can pursue the optiMize challenge and devise practical solutions to the issues that impoverished communities face in Vietnam; with my intersectional perspective, I can provide a fresh outlook and facilitate our work with various demographics. I will also lend my voice to the Tab Michigan as an opinion writer, borrowing from my own experiences, having grown up at the twilight of cultures and languages. Furthermore, given my love for performing arts, I will take part in 58 Greene, specifically for its multicultural focus, and MUSKET/UAC. In regard to affinity groups, I plan to join BiLateral, since I want to network with other bisexual members of the community, as well as raise awareness on Michigan's campus about ourselves. As a Wolverine sibling, I will employ my interdisciplinary lessons and hands-on work to make a difference on the Ann Arbor campus and in the world.

  • It's extremely specific. The student not only makes telling connections between her love of interdisciplinary learning and desired major, but also name-drops specific classes she wants to take, explains how she'll take advantage of the optiMize challenge, and talks about specific groups she'd like to join. There's absolutely no doubt this student has done her research and is truly passionate about attending Michigan.
  • It flows well. The entire essay follows a clear arc, starting with an anecdote of the applicant's first time she managed to make connections between different topics she was studying, and moving on toward her interest in the interdisciplinary offerings at U-M and how they can help her become a future activist.


How to Write a University of Michigan Supplemental Essay

Tip 1: use specific details and examples.

The key to writing an amazing University of Michigan supplemental essay is to write clearly and specifically so that the admissions committee can really feel your passion and understand what makes you the person you are today. After all, your ultimate goal is to tell a compelling story that will leave a mark on your readers.

So don't write vaguely —litter your essay with names, places, dialogue, and images. At the same time, try to stay focused by presenting an easy-to-follow story and logical structure.

For essay 1, for instance, you'll be way more successful if you home in on a specific community you're part of and what it's done for you, rather than trying to cram in tons of details about other communities you relate to. Pick one central topic for each essay, and stick with it.

Tip 2: Be Your Authentic Self

Another tip is to be completely and unapologetically honest in your University of Michigan essays. Write in a voice that's completely and utterly yours and concentrate on a story, person, event, or moment that means a lot to you personally—not what somebody told you to write about, even if that topic sounds more "impressive." So if you want to throw in a joke, go ahead and do it!

Just be sure to avoid the following in your essay , as doing any of these can make you seem lazy, inappropriate, arrogant, or plain unlikable:

  • Typos or errors in spelling, grammar, and/or punctuation
  • Overused quotations or clichéd analogies —writing something such as "It was raining cats and dogs" will make your essay come across unoriginal and bland
  • Inappropriate events or stories —your U-M essay is not the time to write about something illegal or highly immoral you did!
  • Anything outright rude or impolite —for example, don't attack the U-M admissions officers or write something mean about someone at school

Tip 3: Don't Repeat Anything You've Written in Other Essays

One of the tricky problems with writing your University of Michigan supplemental essays is that you need to ensure you're not having too much overlap in your essays , especially between your supplemental essays and your Common App/Coalition App personal essay.

While it's OK to have a little bit of overlap in general content, try to select essay prompts so that you're focusing on different (but still equally important) parts of yourself.

For example, because U-M requires a diversity essay as part of its supplement, you'd probably be better off not choosing the first Common App prompt (which is also about communities and your background).

Remember that the admissions committee wants to get a complete, holistic picture of who you are , so take care to incorporate all major (but different) aspects of yourself in your University of Michigan essays.

Tip 4: Edit and Proofread Before You Submit

Lastly, make sure to edit and proofread each University of Michigan supplemental essay you write before you submit your application.

Once you have a rough draft written, put it away for a few days. Then, take it out again and look it over with a fresh set of eyes. Check for any areas that are unclear, out of place, or irrelevant, and edit as needed.

Keep doing this process until you have a fairly clean rough draft and then give it to somebody you trust, such as a parent or teacher. Have them give you feedback on the content and structure of your essay; they should also look for technical errors.

Once your essay is almost ready to go, give it one last proofread. You should now have a fantastic University of Michigan supplemental essay!


What's Next?

Want to learn more about the University of Michigan? Then check out our Michigan admission requirements page , where we give you everything you need to know to get into this famed school.

Though the University of Michigan is not an Ivy League school , it's considered to be a Public Ivy. Learn what this means and why Michigan qualifies for this honor in our guide to Public Ivies .

Applying to other schools in Michigan or the Midwest? Then check out our essay-writing guides for Michigan State University , the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign , and Notre Dame .

Want to write the perfect college application essay?   We can help.   Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will help you craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay to proudly submit to colleges.   Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now:

Hannah received her MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.

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University of Michigan 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Early Action: Nov 1

Regular Decision Deadline: Feb 1

You Have: 

University of Michigan 2023-24 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: One essay of 300 words, one essay of 550 words

Supplemental Essay Types:   Community , Why

1 . Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.

Required for all applicants. 300 words maximum..

This is a pretty standard community essay and admissions is giving you very specific instructions and launch points, both expected and unexpected, to draw from. You could be a part of an Italian Culture Club or a schnitzel appreciation association, either way, University of Michigan wants to hear about it. So try your best, despite the small space you are given, to answer all parts of this question. Describe the community and then detail how you contribute to that community. The point of this question is to show admissions you will add value and diversity to campus, and that you are a proactive and involved student who will help to build their community.

2.  Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?

Required for freshman applicants. 550 words maximum..

Here is your “why” essay, and it’s a nice, hefty one at 550 words.  Your answer should be mostly focused on the academic offerings: what you want to study, what subjects interest you, and how you will use the resources at your disposal to pursue your professional goals. This is where you prove to University of Michigan that they are a good fit for you and vice versa, and getting this essay right requires a lot of research. You’re going to want to dig deep into the programs that you’re interested in: find classes, professors, even extracurricular activities related to your desired major that interest you. The more specific you can get, the better. Show admissions that you know what differentiates U-M from other colleges and, in turn, you’ll distinguish yourself from other applicants. Finally, don’t forget to connect your own past experiences and accomplishments to the resources you choose to highlight. Paint the picture of where you’ll be found on campus (whether that be the bio lab, math building, or theatre) and what you hope to accomplish.

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The Admissions Strategist

How to write the university of michigan essays 2020-2021: the incomparable guide (examples included).

Located in Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan is a college with a long-standing history of rigorous academic programs and successful alumni.

There are over 40,000 students that attend UM, pursuing degrees in one of 250 programs.

  • The University of Michigan has an acceptance rate of 28%.

If academic prestige is at the top of your criteria for a school, look no further.

According to the “Rankings, Facts & Figures” page of the UM website , the college has some astounding achievements under its belt:

  • #1 Public University For Your Money
  • 97%+ students return after freshman year
  • Top 25 University Worldwide

If you’re not convinced yet, check out the Ann Arbor arts scene and sprawling University of Michigan campus.

Take a tour to see what life would be like at Michigan. You might be ready to pack your bags, but you’ll have to apply to get it in first!

The University of Michigan Supplemental Essay Requirements

The University of Michigan does not host its own application but gives prospective students the option to apply via the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success Application or Common App .

  • Both of these application options require standard essays in addition to Michigan-specific essays.

You can check out our thorough guides to the standard Coalition essays here and those for the Common App essays here .

For the Michigan supplemental, you will be required to answer two relatively lengthier questions that are labeled as “Essay #1” and “Essay #2.”

They should have more structure than a short answer question.  You’ll also notice that the word count limit is significantly larger than other supplemental essays.

Essay #1 (Required for all applicants. 100-300 words.) Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. Essay #2 (Required for all applicants. 100-550 words.) Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?

Michigan Supplemental Essays: How to Write Them!

Click above to watch a video on how to write Michigan Supplemental Essays.

Brainstorming the University of Michigan Supplemental Essays

You’ve finished listing your activities in the application? Great. Now it’s time to play pretend. We need to exercise your brainstorming muscles.

Think about all of the activities in which you participate and then to choose the only one you could not give up.

  • For example, if you are a musician, then pick one instrument and one associated activity you can describe.

Furthermore, if you are a classical pianist, you could describe how long you have been playing, why you intend to keep playing, and a major competition you have won or recital you have performed.

But it’s so hard to choose! While that’s true, remember this is a hypothetical scenario.

In a real situation, you might never give up soccer because it’s your ticket to a free ride to college.

You might not be financially stable enough to give up this opportunity.

  • However, in a hypothetical situation, you might give up soccer because you feel more passionately about your work with the Future Business Leaders of America and would like to one day own and operate your own design-a-sneaker store.

To narrow down your options, first ask yourself these questions:

  • How long have I been participating in this activity?
  • Am I still an active participant?
  • Do I hold a leadership role in any of these activities?
  • Do I have a role model or mentor who has influenced my life through my participation in this activity?
  • Have I grown (as a person, player, musician, etc.) over time while participating in this activity?
  • Do I feel passionate about this activity?

To narrow the list down further, ask yourself why you would or would not keep specific options.

  • This means that you will need to be precise in your description and use descriptive language to highlight your experience.

The questions above point you in the direction you need to go when writing your essays.

  • An activity in which you have participated in for several years, have established yourself as a leader, worked with mentors, and have grown in some fashion could make a powerful essay.

When thinking through this brainstorming exercise, provide only enough context about your activity so that a reader will understand what it is.

  • You would have to provide more information about competitive bottle flipping than for a well-known activity like marching band.
  • Also, you want to save the majority of your words for describing why you would choose this activity above the others.

Use emotional language and specific examples when describing what the activity means to you.

  • For example, you might explain how far you’ve come from having been a shy student who was interested in politics to becoming outgoing with your peers and well-versed in national political discourse.
  • Allow your writing to tell your story.

The purpose of this essay is for you to begin thinking about your story. Clarity will lead to better writing, so take the time to figure out your storyboard.

Michigan Supplemental Essay #1: You and Your Community

Essay #1 (Required for all applicants. 100-300 words.) Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.

As outlined in the prompt above, a community can be defined in many different ways.

In this essay, you are tasked with writing about one of the communities or groups you belong to “and your place within it.”

Since you are undoubtedly a part of many different communities, first brainstorm every community/group that you belong to. The prompt offers these ideas as a start:

  • Intellectual Heritage

Your community can be large (the United States of America) or it could be small (residents living on Pomegranate Street).

  • What you have been able to contribute to your community is just as important if not more important than what the community has done for you.

Perhaps you mentored younger students, helped coordinate meetups, or aided in putting together a makerspace.

Whatever it is you did for your community, make sure you highlight how it made a difference from the status quo.

Get personalized advice!

What’s important here is to write, write, write.

You may find that while trying to come up with these examples, one may not have initially occurred to you on first reading.

Here are some additional examples of communities:

  • Military families
  • Teen court volunteers
  • High school community
  • Geocaching community
  • African-American community
  • Second-generation American community

Once you know what community you want to write about, it’s time to start thinking about how you fit into that community.

  • If you feel like you’re more of an outsider than a participant, you may need to choose another option.
  • The essay itself should find a good balance between describing the community and your role.

The idea of community is incredibly close to our sense of identity and purpose in life.

  • Therefore, it’s okay for this essay to be personal and emotionally descriptive .
  • It should not read like a textbook.
  • It is a real and rich experience you are sharing with your readers and should be treated that way.

When describing your community, you might talk about the members, the place where you get together (be it a physical place, online, or more spiritually abstract), the goals or ideals of your group, and so on.

  • For example, if you are writing about the bird-watching community in your town, you would highlight that it is made up of both expert professors and interested average citizens.
  • You might meet up at the bird sanctuary and go on hikes all over the county in smaller groups.
  • The goals of your community are to enjoy these beautiful creatures while also working together to protect them and create ideal conditions in which they can prosper.
  • Then, you would describe your role in the community and, perhaps, what being a part of that community means to you.
  • To continue our example, you might write about how you were introduced to the group because your mother is an ornithologist and you would tag along as a kid.
  • Now you participate in the community through your own volition by organizing fundraising events and managing the group’s social media account.
  • It doesn’t matter that you have no interest in ornithology as a career. You grew to love the community and will be a lifelong participant.

For this essay, you have a limit of 300 words.

Remember to balance describing your community and your role in order to create a compelling story.

If you briefly describe your role and focus only on the community at large, your readers will miss out on the opportunity to learn more about you as a person (and, by extension, you as a potential student).

Michigan Community Essay Examples

Michigan community essay example 1:

I have always known that soldiers and veterans are the people who have sacrificed for our country. Yet, I have undervalued them since they were of no consequence in my life. After my dad signed me up (read: forcibly volunteered) to assist a night game of bingo at the NY VA, I did not know I would be joining a new family. While distributing snacks, the patients constantly asked me about my well-being and personal stories. As I volunteered more, I met new family members. I cleaned wheelchairs and gathered them from the parking lot to ensure the wheelchair supply was always sufficient for visitors. Through this, I gained an appreciation for the precise care it took to transport family members and ensure they felt at home after surgery. Admittedly, I grow impatient when tasks are not moving at my desired pace, but if I was taking care of sick family members, I knew I had to change. Seeing the struggle it took for a family member to get into a wheelchair and retrieve his oxygen tank helped me realize that I had to develop patience and composure. At the VA, I became a grandson, who learned how to take accountability for his actions. I discovered communication skills that will help me become closer with those of different backgrounds. My VA family has molded me to connect with and lend a helping hand to new families. The Edward Ginsberg Center at your school is a platform that will allow me to leverage and expand my skills in community engagement. I can see myself taking on a leadership role, engaging in service, and continuing to contribute to the VA and other communities through the Community Leadership fellows program.

Michigan community essay example #2:

Generation Z  is my community. The teens and young adults of the world, stereotyped as the generation that can’t do anything other than look at a phone. The laziest generation. The most self-centered generation. I see another side of this generation, though.  Generation Z is a   community with  the power to change the world by noticing problems in the world and raising awareness. Gen Z is filled with ambitious dreamers who aren’t afraid to stand up and speak out. My community consists of young people globally speaking truths of power. Greta Thunberg is only seventeen, but has raised global awareness about the dangers of climate change. My place in this community is as someone who has noticed a global crisis regarding blindness and how easily it can be prevented. In 2018, I flew to Honduras to volunteer in a hospital and travel  to rural villages across the country to set up clinics to screen for cataracts and distribute reading glasses. I observed the cataract surgeries that I had funded by fundraising in the U.S. Each surgery only costs $50, but the villagers cannot afford it.  As someone in danger of going blind someday, it broke my heart to know that so many people were suffering and couldn’t afford the care that they needed. Though I was only sixteen, I took on the mentality of many other determined Gen Zers: I can fix this. My work with Unite for Sight didn’t end with my trip to Honduras. I hope to continue to fix this issue  by figuring out how to bring the price of the surgery down and make it more available to the public. I hope to make other Gen Z kids proud by taking initiative on a project that I am passionate about that will create lasting change. 

Michigan community essay example #3:

As my entrepreneurial fervor grew during my first three years of high school, I found myself feeling disjointed from my peers and looking for a community that would nurture my startup fever. When she noticed my budding interest, the head of a local incubator invited me to apply for their accelerator program. I initially felt unsure, but I gave it a shot, and as time went on, I felt as if I were transported to Ancient Athens during every Monday session. As a program meant to help individuals jumpstart and accelerate their businesses, the incubator prompted participants to think Socratically. We questioned and debated every preconceived notion regarding startups: how to conduct proper market research, when and why to shut down, and even whether a humanitarian venture could also be a profitable one. Our oratories were not dull, 10-minute long PowerPoints followed by the occasional golf clap; they were action-packed, 60-second elevator pitches accompanied by a barrage of inquiries and suggestions about statistical logos and story-telling pathos. Through numerous congregations within the polis, I gave a fellow participant the conviction to pursue his business of educating students on the college recruiting process, emphasizing how all of my friends loved athletics and wanted to go D1. In return, he helped me see that the biggest problem with teens wasn’t always finding opportunities; it was being ready and professional enough to capture it. Despite channeling Alexander the Great’s cutthroat competitiveness at the beginning, our group personified Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates in the end, as we considered each other’s ventures and employed our own ethos to help one another. We didn’t all have to be our own Homers — our Iliad and Odyssey were the cumulative success of all of our companies, forged by the collaborative intertwining of our stories.

Michigan community essay example #4:

Months of endless preparation have culminated in this very moment. Standing on the bema, I look down at my Star of David necklace, smiling. Today, I will become a Bat Mitzvah. Today, I will officially become an adult in the eyes of my community.    The global Jewish community is diverse, yet connected through our heritage and values. Integral to Jewish teachings is the responsibility to perform tikkun olam , which are acts of kindness performed to improve the world. This principle has been a driving force in my life, influencing my actions, shaping my decisions, and connecting me with my heritage.  I have found my niche within the Jewish community through the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization. BBYO connects Jewish teens locally and globally, providing them with a platform to engage in social action in the spirit of tikkun olam. As the leader of my local BBYO chapter, it is my goal to create programming that highlights charity, where all who join leave feeling enriched and inspired to do good on their own.  BBYO has ingrained in me an important aspect of tikkun olam: giving back is not equivalent to donating material items. Rather, it can be in the form of guidance, demonstrating care, or providing others with new perspectives that enhance their life. Thus, my chapter promotes a variety of programs such as creating Mother’s Day baskets for domestically abused women in shelters, but also spending time with the elderly in our neighborhoods and encouraging others in random acts of kindness.  The Jewish community will always be my home. Within it, I have found young, Jewish leaders empowered to create a difference through tikkun olam . Together with my peers, my community has the ability to create positive change in our neighborhoods, countries, and throughout the world. 

Michigan Supplemental Essay #2:

Essay #2 (Required for all applicants. 100-550 words.) Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?

The University of Michigan not only offers a wide array of degree programs but also strongly believes in the power of education to create informed and influential citizens.

Before writing this essay, you should perform significant research on the programs for which you are applying.

  • It will be apparent to the admissions committee whether or not you took the time to learn about these programs.
  • A potential student who has invested time in searching for the program that is perfect for her interests will be much more likely to write an authentic and convincing essay.

You may already know what degree programs you are interested in, but you might also be a part of a large group of students going to college that has no idea.

  • If this is the case, determine which fields you are most interested in that you would also feel comfortable writing about.

The easy part of writing this essay is describing the university’s degree programs.

What’s more challenging is linking your interests to the curriculum.

  • Perhaps you are interested in the University of Michigan’s nursing program. You have always been interested in science and medicine and participated in HOSA (a group for future health professionals) all four years of high school.
  • You also studied abroad one summer and have become even more interested in global health as a potential career path.
  • In this essay, you want to talk about your experience with HOSA and your dream of becoming a nurse.
  • You also want to discuss that study abroad experience and how you would be interested in applying for a minor in “Population Health in a Global Context” offered by the nursing department.
  • You also intend to participate in study abroad in college.

The key to this essay is specificity.

As much as possible, you should provide concrete examples of your experiences, interests, and career/college goals.

Perhaps you are interested in studying computer science and engineering because, after all, the University of Michigan has the co-founder of Google as a notable alumnus.

  • Do the background research into the department of interest and look at the course description as well, and the capstone project expected of students.
  • You should have demonstrated interest from high school, perhaps a science fair project, advanced classes, or a summer research internship.
  • Let that set the foundation for the reason you want to pursue, say, in this case, computer science, and then highlight which classes will help you further your career aspirations.
  • This will not be set in stone, but you need to demonstrate that you have some coherent plan.

Allow your excitement and passion to shine through your writing. The admissions committee wants to understand more about you and why UM is the perfect fit for you (and vice versa).

Why Michigan Essay Example

I was 5 when I sat in the stands of the Crisler Center, watching my dad receive his MBA from the University of Michigan. The person my dad has become, as a father and manager at Chrysler Motors, has inspired me to pursue computer science at U-M. As my passion developed, I joined the Cars Club (CC), in which we build fuel-efficient cars. A major experience included wiring trailer lights so that we could transport our newly built vehicles. As a newcomer to wiring, I measured and drilled holes, connected lighting, and combined wiring with hardware. The first step to wiring was running the length of the wire throughout the trailer. In order to feed the wire, I used a dipstick to pull and stretch the correct colored wires to corresponding locations of the trailer. Although my back ached with pain after lying under the trailer for an hour, I enjoyed drilling holes and connecting the wires to the lights. Eventually, the finished trailer was used to transport the team’s fuel-efficient car.    CC is very similar to your Supermileage team, a club I got to see at the Wilson center and one I will join thanks to my interest in engaging in hands-on experiences with prototypical vehicles and technologies. Using my experience in CC, I aim to collaborate with highly capable students to develop the solution to fuel economy issues. Another student organization that I will join is Code M, which will help me spread knowledge about computer science and engineering while learning through a collaborative environment and corporate events. I witnessed the culture and diversity of U-M at the MMSS camp, where I took the course Math and the Internet. During this course, I learned about cryptography, error correction code, and wiring logic gates by creating truth tables. A major class project required the creation of logic diagrams and wiring of logic gates to make a part of a “computer” that sends messages to Twitter. This was an arduous process, as I had exposure to neither making logic diagrams nor wiring in this context. However, the hands-on and interactive experiences that Professor Mark Conger provided, such as drawing and explaining logic diagrams, helped me grasp the concepts. In addition, I worked on public and private key encryption and sent messages to decode using ASCII, the modulo operation, and the Euclidean algorithm. The interactive style of the classroom encouraged me to ask Professor Conger for help on how to find the mod of numbers with large exponents. Professor Conger’s creative “magic” card game taught me binary, which helped me absorb challenging material. The environment at U-M gave me the tools to thrive. I envision myself at U-M College of Engineering computer science classes, considering my experience with programming websites that automate Pythagorean theorem calculations. Computer Architecture, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, and Advanced Embedded Systems are courses I will take in order to learn more about the applications of computer science. Using the knowledge from these classes, I will contribute to Mcity’s research and undergraduate research programs like SURE and SROP projects. Likewise, my goal is to contribute to the research on autonomous vehicles conducted by Ford and U-M in tandem. Seeing all of U-M’s initiatives, I know I can advance the automation of sustainable technologies at your school.

Conclusion: University of Michigan Supplemental Essays

It’s a good idea to type your answers in a word processor instead of directly into the application box.

This way, you can see all of your text at once and use a built-in spell check tool before copy and pasting your essays into the application.

Once you have a solid draft, read your work aloud and make revisions as you go. Finally, have a peer or adult read your writing for clarity and any grammar errors.

Essays are never perfect in the first draft. These strategies will help you polish your application until it shines.

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How to Write the University of Michigan Supplemental Essays 2021-2022

Padya Paramita

October 21, 2021

how to write the u of m community essay

Frequently referred to as “the Harvard of the West,” The University of Michigan—Ann Arbor is known for being one of the most academically competitive schools in the Midwest, with an acceptance rate of 18.2% for the 2020-2021 cycle. Michigan is ranked as the #1 public research university and the #2 public school in the U.S., so it’s no wonder that over 83,000 students applied this year. In order to stand out among so many applicants, you must highlight why you’re a strong fit by taking advantage of the University of Michigan supplemental essays 2021-2022.

With such a high number of applications, being a lifelong U-M football fan won’t be enough to get you accepted. You’ll have to compete with thousands of top students. To help you navigate through the prompts for the University of Michigan supplemental essays 2021-2022, I’ve outlined the questions, gone deeper into how to write your response, and added some final tips that can help you succeed in the process.

Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (Required for all applicants; 300 word limit)

Michigan is interested in your involvement with communities that you’re a part o in high school. From the question, you can see that “community” isn’t limited to a club or organization. Your response to the first question among the University of Michigan supplemental essays 2021-2022 can reflect on food your family makes, or you can talk about your hometown. No matter what you write about, make sure you focus on your place within this community. It’s easy to spend all 300 words describing your community when the admissions officer really wants to hear about you! You don’t necessarily have to talk about your race or cultural background either. Your community could be your group of friends who are all passionate about baking! As long as you are able to position this community as impactful and important to you personally, it’s fair game for this essay. Admissions officers want to know how you will fit into their community and contribute to the school—so don’t take this prompt lightly!

Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? (Required for all applicants; 550 word limit)

This is the longest of the supplemental essays and perhaps the most important. This is U-M’s version of the “why do you want to attend this school” essay. 

With approximately 275 majors and 14 undergraduate schools and colleges, the University of Michigan can be a great fit for many types of students. Make sure you’re researching the exact school within UMich that you hope to apply to. You might be interested in the College of Literature. Science, and the Arts (LSA), the largest college on campus in terms of majors and enrollment. Or, you have your eyes on the College of Engineering, which boasts an amazing program with 17 different specializations. There’s also the Ross School of Business, the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, and the School of Art and Design. 

Spend time looking through the different colleges and the majors within them. What kind of research opportunities do they provide? Who are some of the faculty? The more specific you can be about what aspects of the program interest you, the better. Regardless of your choice, your answer should focus on the specific resources within the college that you have chosen, your specific interests in the major you are applying for, alongside how the school will help you reach your future goals. Don’t forget to demonstrate why you in turn are going to be a strong fit for the college of your choice. 

Further Tips to Write the University of Michigan Supplemental Essays 2021-2022

  • If You Get an Early Start, You Can Apply Early Action - If you have time, why not start working on the University of Michigan supplemental essays 2021-2022 right now? Unlike Early Decision programs, Early Action does not bind you to UMich, so you are free to apply to other schools. Applying EA will allow you to receive your admissions decision sooner, which may relieve some application season stress
  • Remember to Connect Your Answers to Yourself : While it’s pretty easy to fill up a page with everything appealing about UMich, remember that the University of Michigan supplemental essays 2021-2022 are designed to get to know you. Your answer to the question does not have to be extremely deep or existential if such a theme has no relevance to you. You need to write two essays that will help make you memorable: avoid writing about cliché features that have a hundred other essays and brochures about them.

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How to Write the Community Essay – Guide with Examples (2023-24)

September 6, 2023

Students applying to college this year will inevitably confront the community essay. In fact, most students will end up responding to several community essay prompts for different schools. For this reason, you should know more than simply how to approach the community essay as a genre. Rather, you will want to learn how to decipher the nuances of each particular prompt, in order to adapt your response appropriately. In this article, we’ll show you how to do just that, through several community essay examples. These examples will also demonstrate how to avoid cliché and make the community essay authentically and convincingly your own.

Emphasis on Community

Do keep in mind that inherent in the word “community” is the idea of multiple people. The personal statement already provides you with a chance to tell the college admissions committee about yourself as an individual. The community essay, however, suggests that you depict yourself among others. You can use this opportunity to your advantage by showing off interpersonal skills, for example. Or, perhaps you wish to relate a moment that forged important relationships. This in turn will indicate what kind of connections you’ll make in the classroom with college peers and professors.

Apart from comprising numerous people, a community can appear in many shapes and sizes. It could be as small as a volleyball team, or as large as a diaspora. It could fill a town soup kitchen, or spread across five boroughs. In fact, due to the internet, certain communities today don’t even require a physical place to congregate. Communities can form around a shared identity, shared place, shared hobby, shared ideology, or shared call to action. They can even arise due to a shared yet unforeseen circumstance.

What is the Community Essay All About?             

In a nutshell, the community essay should exhibit three things:

  • An aspect of yourself, 2. in the context of a community you belonged to, and 3. how this experience may shape your contribution to the community you’ll join in college.

It may look like a fairly simple equation: 1 + 2 = 3. However, each college will word their community essay prompt differently, so it’s important to look out for additional variables. One college may use the community essay as a way to glimpse your core values. Another may use the essay to understand how you would add to diversity on campus. Some may let you decide in which direction to take it—and there are many ways to go!

To get a better idea of how the prompts differ, let’s take a look at some real community essay prompts from the current admission cycle.

Sample 2023-2024 Community Essay Prompts

1) brown university.

“Students entering Brown often find that making their home on College Hill naturally invites reflection on where they came from. Share how an aspect of your growing up has inspired or challenged you, and what unique contributions this might allow you to make to the Brown community. (200-250 words)”

A close reading of this prompt shows that Brown puts particular emphasis on place. They do this by using the words “home,” “College Hill,” and “where they came from.” Thus, Brown invites writers to think about community through the prism of place. They also emphasize the idea of personal growth or change, through the words “inspired or challenged you.” Therefore, Brown wishes to see how the place you grew up in has affected you. And, they want to know how you in turn will affect their college community.

“NYU was founded on the belief that a student’s identity should not dictate the ability for them to access higher education. That sense of opportunity for all students, of all backgrounds, remains a part of who we are today and a critical part of what makes us a world-class university. Our community embraces diversity, in all its forms, as a cornerstone of the NYU experience.

We would like to better understand how your experiences would help us to shape and grow our diverse community. Please respond in 250 words or less.”

Here, NYU places an emphasis on students’ “identity,” “backgrounds,” and “diversity,” rather than any physical place. (For some students, place may be tied up in those ideas.) Furthermore, while NYU doesn’t ask specifically how identity has changed the essay writer, they do ask about your “experience.” Take this to mean that you can still recount a specific moment, or several moments, that work to portray your particular background. You should also try to link your story with NYU’s values of inclusivity and opportunity.

3) University of Washington

“Our families and communities often define us and our individual worlds. Community might refer to your cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood or school, sports team or club, co-workers, etc. Describe the world you come from and how you, as a product of it, might add to the diversity of the UW. (300 words max) Tip: Keep in mind that the UW strives to create a community of students richly diverse in cultural backgrounds, experiences, values and viewpoints.”

UW ’s community essay prompt may look the most approachable, for they help define the idea of community. You’ll notice that most of their examples (“families,” “cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood”…) place an emphasis on people. This may clue you in on their desire to see the relationships you’ve made. At the same time, UW uses the words “individual” and “richly diverse.” They, like NYU, wish to see how you fit in and stand out, in order to boost campus diversity.

Writing Your First Community Essay

Begin by picking which community essay you’ll write first. (For practical reasons, you’ll probably want to go with whichever one is due earliest.) Spend time doing a close reading of the prompt, as we’ve done above. Underline key words. Try to interpret exactly what the prompt is asking through these keywords.

Next, brainstorm. I recommend doing this on a blank piece of paper with a pencil. Across the top, make a row of headings. These might be the communities you’re a part of, or the components that make up your identity. Then, jot down descriptive words underneath in each column—whatever comes to you. These words may invoke people and experiences you had with them, feelings, moments of growth, lessons learned, values developed, etc. Now, narrow in on the idea that offers the richest material and that corresponds fully with the prompt.

Lastly, write! You’ll definitely want to describe real moments, in vivid detail. This will keep your essay original, and help you avoid cliché. However, you’ll need to summarize the experience and answer the prompt succinctly, so don’t stray too far into storytelling mode.

How To Adapt Your Community Essay

Once your first essay is complete, you’ll need to adapt it to the other colleges involving community essays on your list. Again, you’ll want to turn to the prompt for a close reading, and recognize what makes this prompt different from the last. For example, let’s say you’ve written your essay for UW about belonging to your swim team, and how the sports dynamics shaped you. Adapting that essay to Brown’s prompt could involve more of a focus on place. You may ask yourself, how was my swim team in Alaska different than the swim teams we competed against in other states?

Once you’ve adapted the content, you’ll also want to adapt the wording to mimic the prompt. For example, let’s say your UW essay states, “Thinking back to my years in the pool…” As you adapt this essay to Brown’s prompt, you may notice that Brown uses the word “reflection.” Therefore, you might change this sentence to “Reflecting back on my years in the pool…” While this change is minute, it cleverly signals to the reader that you’ve paid attention to the prompt, and are giving that school your full attention.

What to Avoid When Writing the Community Essay  

  • Avoid cliché. Some students worry that their idea is cliché, or worse, that their background or identity is cliché. However, what makes an essay cliché is not the content, but the way the content is conveyed. This is where your voice and your descriptions become essential.
  • Avoid giving too many examples. Stick to one community, and one or two anecdotes arising from that community that allow you to answer the prompt fully.
  • Don’t exaggerate or twist facts. Sometimes students feel they must make themselves sound more “diverse” than they feel they are. Luckily, diversity is not a feeling. Likewise, diversity does not simply refer to one’s heritage. If the prompt is asking about your identity or background, you can show the originality of your experiences through your actions and your thinking.

Community Essay Examples and Analysis

Brown university community essay example.

I used to hate the NYC subway. I’ve taken it since I was six, going up and down Manhattan, to and from school. By high school, it was a daily nightmare. Spending so much time underground, underneath fluorescent lighting, squashed inside a rickety, rocking train car among strangers, some of whom wanted to talk about conspiracy theories, others who had bedbugs or B.O., or who manspread across two seats, or bickered—it wore me out. The challenge of going anywhere seemed absurd. I dreaded the claustrophobia and disgruntlement.

Yet the subway also inspired my understanding of community. I will never forget the morning I saw a man, several seats away, slide out of his seat and hit the floor. The thump shocked everyone to attention. What we noticed: he appeared drunk, possibly homeless. I was digesting this when a second man got up and, through a sort of awkward embrace, heaved the first man back into his seat. The rest of us had stuck to subway social codes: don’t step out of line. Yet this second man’s silent actions spoke loudly. They said, “I care.”

That day I realized I belong to a group of strangers. What holds us together is our transience, our vulnerabilities, and a willingness to assist. This community is not perfect but one in motion, a perpetual work-in-progress. Now I make it my aim to hold others up. I plan to contribute to the Brown community by helping fellow students and strangers in moments of precariousness.    

Brown University Community Essay Example Analysis

Here the student finds an original way to write about where they come from. The subway is not their home, yet it remains integral to ideas of belonging. The student shows how a community can be built between strangers, in their responsibility toward each other. The student succeeds at incorporating key words from the prompt (“challenge,” “inspired” “Brown community,” “contribute”) into their community essay.

UW Community Essay Example

I grew up in Hawaii, a world bound by water and rich in diversity. In school we learned that this sacred land was invaded, first by Captain Cook, then by missionaries, whalers, traders, plantation owners, and the U.S. government. My parents became part of this problematic takeover when they moved here in the 90s. The first community we knew was our church congregation. At the beginning of mass, we shook hands with our neighbors. We held hands again when we sang the Lord’s Prayer. I didn’t realize our church wasn’t “normal” until our diocese was informed that we had to stop dancing hula and singing Hawaiian hymns. The order came from the Pope himself.

Eventually, I lost faith in God and organized institutions. I thought the banning of hula—an ancient and pure form of expression—seemed medieval, ignorant, and unfair, given that the Hawaiian religion had already been stamped out. I felt a lack of community and a distrust for any place in which I might find one. As a postcolonial inhabitant, I could never belong to the Hawaiian culture, no matter how much I valued it. Then, I was shocked to learn that Queen Ka’ahumanu herself had eliminated the Kapu system, a strict code of conduct in which women were inferior to men. Next went the Hawaiian religion. Queen Ka’ahumanu burned all the temples before turning to Christianity, hoping this religion would offer better opportunities for her people.

Community Essay (Continued)

I’m not sure what to make of this history. Should I view Queen Ka’ahumanu as a feminist hero, or another failure in her islands’ tragedy? Nothing is black and white about her story, but she did what she thought was beneficial to her people, regardless of tradition. From her story, I’ve learned to accept complexity. I can disagree with institutionalized religion while still believing in my neighbors. I am a product of this place and their presence. At UW, I plan to add to campus diversity through my experience, knowing that diversity comes with contradictions and complications, all of which should be approached with an open and informed mind.

UW Community Essay Example Analysis

This student also manages to weave in words from the prompt (“family,” “community,” “world,” “product of it,” “add to the diversity,” etc.). Moreover, the student picks one of the examples of community mentioned in the prompt, (namely, a religious group,) and deepens their answer by addressing the complexity inherent in the community they’ve been involved in. While the student displays an inner turmoil about their identity and participation, they find a way to show how they’d contribute to an open-minded campus through their values and intellectual rigor.

What’s Next

For more on supplemental essays and essay writing guides, check out the following articles:

  • How to Write the Why This Major Essay + Example
  • How to Write the Overcoming Challenges Essay + Example
  • How to Start a College Essay – 12 Techniques and Tips
  • College Essay

Kaylen Baker

With a BA in Literary Studies from Middlebury College, an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University, and a Master’s in Translation from Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis, Kaylen has been working with students on their writing for over five years. Previously, Kaylen taught a fiction course for high school students as part of Columbia Artists/Teachers, and served as an English Language Assistant for the French National Department of Education. Kaylen is an experienced writer/translator whose work has been featured in Los Angeles Review, Hybrid, San Francisco Bay Guardian, France Today, and Honolulu Weekly, among others.

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how to write the u of m community essay

August 8, 2022

Tips for Answering the University of Michigan Supplemental Essay Prompts [2022 – 2023]

Tips for Answering the University of Michigan Supplemental Essay Prompts [2022 – 2023]

The University of Michigan is a large (over 40,000 students), predominantly residential campus located in the small city of Ann Arbor. This well known school has an outstanding reputation for research, academic rigor and athletic spirit—it is often referred to as a public-Ivy. It offers a non-binding Early Action option with an application deadline of November 1st and accepts either the Common Application or Coalition Application with no preference. In the university’s efforts to gain a deeper understanding of the sort of student you might become at the University of Michigan, your application will ask you to write a main essay for whichever application type you select, as well as three supplemental essays.

Before you begin writing, take the time to research and identify what appeals to you most about the school . Consider location, athletics, academic programs, residential colleges, professors, particular clubs, study abroad programs, and anything else that attracts you to the University of Michigan. These responses are your opportunity to share more about yourself to make the strongest possible case for both your potential fit with the school and for the ways in which an education at UM will prepare you for the future.

Get a free consultation: Click here to schedule a call to find out how our admissions experts can help YOU get accepted to the University of Michigan!

Below are some suggestions to help you address the supplemental prompts.

The University of Michigan supplemental essay questions

University of michigan supplemental essay #1.

Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (Required for all applicants; 1,500 character limit )

If you have applied to other selective schools, you are likely to be familiar with this sort of “diversity” prompt . What they are getting at is your personal story and how you might relate with others of similar and different life experiences. While there might be some overlap in how these communities/groups are defined, try to focus on the precise intersection that shapes your sense of identity. Describe how each factor contributes to who you are and how you engage with the world around you. Your story does not have to be exotic ; it just needs to reveal your sense of self-awareness, of both the world you come from and your place within it. Diversity is essential to the University of Michigan, as showcased on its website: “U-M is committed to creating a campus environment of equity and inclusion where students, faculty, and staff with diverse backgrounds live, learn, and work together.” As you tell your story, consider how you will contribute to and benefit from this diverse atmosphere. How might you connect with other students, faculty, staff and the community at the University? Do your research and consider specific ways you can get involved.

Hop on a free discovery to call find out how we can help you get accepted >>

University of Michigan supplemental essay #2

Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? (Required for all applicants; 2,750 character limit )

This is another opportunity to demonstrate that you’ve done your homework and identified distinctive aspects of the program at the University of Michigan. You must communicate what appeals to you and how the specific program/curriculum will prepare you to achieve your goals. If you are undecided, you can speak to your areas of interest and how you might explore them at the University of Michigan. Consider the 14 different undergraduate Schools and Colleges it boasts to determine which might be the best prospective home for you. Be sure to notice that many programs at the university do not require application until your second year of college. Most students at the University of Michigan are admitted to the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) for their first year of study, while others (business school students, for example) go through the Preferred Admission process while still in high school, which allows them sophomore entry to a particular School/College provided they meet certain academic conditions. 

If you are applying to a School/College that predominantly admits new classes via Preferred Admission (e.g., Ross School of Business), it is critical that you decide now, while still a high school student, which School/College you’re targeting; it can be difficult to transfer from one School/College to another after your first year of study, even with exceptional grades. Review the degree/graduation requirements—what do you find attractive or what might be beneficial to you about this particular school? Why is this specific school such a good match for your interests, learning style, or ultimate goals? Provide details and support your statements with reasons why a particular program or School at the University of Michigan is the ideal place for you !

School of Education applicants only

Discuss where you would like to teach and/or the types of students you would like to teach and how you developed this commitment.

This is a question asking as much for information about your teaching future and desires as it is for your teaching history and your passions and skills up to the present. Be sure to demonstrate past experience, passion, and values that are all relevant to the field of teaching, as well as relatively specific goals and reasons behind them.

Final thoughts on applying to the University of Michigan

As a school that accepts the Common Application , the University of Michigan is committed to a holistic review of your application materials. This means it takes all aspects of your application into account. Don’t miss your opportunity to stand out among your peers; provide a genuine sense of your character through your essay responses!

To provide some context for where you might stand, of the 79,743 students who applied to enter the class of 2025 at the University of Michigan, 16,071 or about 20% were offered admission. The interquartile (middle 50th percent) ranges for SAT scores were between 1400 and 1540. For ACT scores, they ranged from 32 to 35. The average entering GPA was 3.9 on a 4.0 scale. This is a competitive applicant pool.

While keeping these statistics in mind, take a moment to relax and plan. Make sure you meet all deadlines and allow yourself adequate time to write and revise your essays . Consider the best way to communicate your personal experiences, convey your interests, express your enthusiasm for learning, and demonstrate how and why the University of Michigan is the best place for you!

If you’re applying to the University of Michigan, you already know you’re up against tight competition. Don’t be overwhelmed. Get the guidance of an experienced admissions specialist who will help you stand out from a highly competitive applicant pool so you can apply with confidence, and get accepted! Click here to get started!

Ivy League and Common Application Tips: How to get Accepted

Related Resources:

  • From Example to Exemplary , a free guide to writing great application essays
  • The Essay Whisperer: How to Write a College Application Essay
  • Mining Identity for College Essays, Personal Statements

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Common questions, essay questions.

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University of Michigan Questions

  • Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.  (Required for all applicants. 1,500 character limit.)
  • Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?  (Required for all applicants. 2,750 character limit.)
  • An optional essay  related to the impact of COVID-19 on the applicant. We encourage students to share their specific circumstances, and will bring empathy and compassion to our holistic review process.

Additional Question for Transfer Applicants:

  • Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve.  (1,500 character limit)

Marsal Family School of Education Transfer Applicants Only:

Please review the Educator Preparation Program (EPP) mission and vision statements below:

Mission: Our mission in the EPP at the Marsal Family School of Education is to prepare educators to support the well-being and learning of young people and to advance justice through their practice, advocacy, and activism. All pathways within the EPP leverage both research and the expertise of experienced educators to prepare novices for the complex work of supporting young people's learning and thriving, as well as that of their families and communities. We strive to uphold diversity and inclusion, and to advance justice and equity, in the field of educator preparation.

Vision: The EPP at the Marsal Family School of Education pursues a vision of educating toward justice.

Please address the following in your essay:

  • How does your experience prepare you to engage in a program with these commitments?
  • What goals do you have for your own career in light of these commitments?

The Common Application Personal Essay

The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don't feel obligated to do so.  (1,250-3,250 character limit, approx. 250-650 word limit. The application won't accept a response shorter than 250 words.)

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  • Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

how to write the u of m community essay

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University of Michigan’s 2023-24 Essay Prompts

Community short response.

Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.

Why This Major Short Response

Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?

Common App Personal Essay

The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don‘t feel obligated to do so.

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you‘ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

What will first-time readers think of your college essay?

University of Michigan Essay Examples (And Why They Worked)

The following University of Michigan essay examples were written by authors who were admitted to University of Michigan (UMich). All names have been redacted for anonymity. Please note that CollegeAdvisor.com has shared these essays with admissions officers at University of Michigan in order to deter potential plagiarism.

For more help with your University of Michigan essays, check out our 2020-2021 University of Michigan Essay Guide ! For more guidance on personal essays and the college application process in general, sign up for a monthly plan to work with an admissions coach 1-on-1.

Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?

Given the excellent academic program, the University of Michigan provides a wonderful opportunity for me to learn and grow both as a student and person. During my recent tour of campus, I was excited about the idea that I had the potential to make a mark on this large university. Furthermore, I got the sense that there were many opportunities for me to create a community, excel in a variety of academic and leadership areas, and prepare myself for an exciting and fulfilling career.

I am most interested in the Program in Biology within the College of Literature, Science and the Arts. As an avid life science student with a keen interest in environmental science and biodiversity, I am most interested in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology major. In my AP biology course, for instance, the lab I found most interesting involved animal behavior with response to wet and dry environments. As a student within the Department of EEB, I would be able to learn more about biodiversity and the history of life on earth. The depth and breadth of the curriculum, including classes such as Animals Functioning in Environments and Animal Diversity, would be particularly interesting to me. Another exciting unique opportunity is the University of Michigan’s Biological Station in the Great Lakes region. As a member of a research team, I would be able to examine natural habitats and do lab experiments in the field. I am more than excited to be part of such a scientific community. I am also interested in exploring forest succession and ecosystem processes through the Forest Ecosystem Study. Furthermore, I would be interested in studying abroad during my time at Michigan. One program that interested me was the CGIS trip to the London School of Economics and Political Sciences where I could further my study of biology, but in a new setting. Michigan’s strength of curricular and hands-on opportunities would certainly offer me ways to continue and develop my interest in biology.

Outside of the classroom and field, I would like to share my enthusiasm about biology with like-minded students by joining the Biology Student Alliance and Society of Biology Students. And, while not directly related to biology and ecology, as a Michigan student, I look forward to joining the Michigan Academics Competition. As captain of my school’s Academic team, a Quiz Bowl style trivia competition, I enjoy researching and recalling science (and history) facts. As a biology student, I am confident that I would become one of the biology specialists on the Michigan Academics Competition and Quiz Bowl Team.

Michigan’s incredible opportunities within the Program of Biology would enable me to have access to a world class education. Furthermore, the unique field experience and research opportunities would enable me to make my mark on the University.

Why this University of Michigan essay worked, according to an ex-admissions officer

In this essay, the author begins by praising the University’s academics and then expresses how much of an opportunity it would be to get to matriculate at UMich. They uses energetic words and direct verbs. The sentences exude intention. In the first paragraph alone, this student tells us that they will hold dear an opportunity to attend UMich. They inform us that they will benefit as a person and a scholar and will also give back to the community while on campus.

The author then goes on to tell us what programs they would like to join at UMich. Yet while doing so, the author interjects their own interests, talents and experiences. By doing this, we can clearly see that the author has the curiosity and ability to effectively join these classes and programs. The author renders their own experiences in three dimensions, making it clear that they would be an excellent candidate.

The writer walks us through exactly what they plan to study and how they hope to integrate into the community. This inspires confidence in us as readers.

This student would be an avid contributor to UMich. Though the essay is direct, it has complexity and ends by reiterating that this student intends to make an impact. If you’re interested in attending UMich, don’t forget to use our College Search Feature! You’ll find all kinds of interesting information on everything from academics to financial aid along with helpful school-specific admissions resources.

I always had a keen interest in numbers, probability, and finance. Early on, I could run numbers quickly: calculating sales tax, analyzing probabilities, and visualizing complex mathematical models in my head. After taking two AP classes in economics and one in statistics, I became increasingly intrigued with the mathematical representations of the different product and labor markets of the economy and modeling statistical outcomes, sparking my desire to pursue a career in that field through preferred action admission to Ross. Thus, I have set my sights on becoming an actuary since risk management is highly intriguing and allows me to use my talents in mathematical and statistical analysis as well as in written and verbal communication. The curriculum at Ross, coupled with the liberal arts requirements, will provide me with the necessary background to pursue my career goals.

At Ross, I will have the privilege of pursuing a Bachelor in Business Administration, providing me with a well-rounded background in management and economic analysis. I am particularly looking forward to the TO 301: Business Analytics and Statistics course taught by Dr. Shimi Nassiri, as it develops the skills of proper statistical and economic analysis and subsequent decision making. As well, it provides in-class experience of analyzing and modelling real data sets. I am also invested in Dr. Nassiri research of more efficient and effective healthcare solutions. As a Hispanic teenager, I feel very strongly about Dr. Shima Nassiri research on health care as it greatly impacts both the Hispanic and other minority communities. I am also eager for the 360° Thinking portion of the Ross curriculum. Particularly, the junior year course MO 300: Behavioral Theory in Management greatly intrigues me. It entails an in depth analysis of societal trends and how to develop creative and efficient responses as a manager. This class would provide a strong foundation for me in the analysis of social sciences and how they intertwine with economics. Additionally, what draws me to Ross is the emphasis on teambuilding and leadership skills which play a crucial role in molding successful business leaders in today’s rapidly changing world economy. My experience as a faculty-selected “Peer Leader” at Manalapan High School has provided a gateway into the fundamentals of leadership, and I look forward to expanding my skills through the unique leadership portion of the Ross curriculum as well as various leadership programs, such as the Leadership Experience Program (LDRx). The opportunity to develop both the tangible and intangible skills, which separate the accomplished leaders from the rest of the pack, will help me to create meaningful relationships both in the business world and the greater world community.

While I expect to learn a great deal at Ross, I feel my upbringing will permit me to contribute to Ross. I grew up surrounded by Latin salsa, spices, sights, and sounds, but that was not all. Since my parents immigrated from Cuba, I grew up with stories of the political and economic struggles my family faced. It is through these stories that I have gained an understanding of the influence of leadership and the importance of economical and statistical analysis to grow an economy. I hope to share my cultural background and perspective as a Hispanic man at Ross.

This essay leaves me with absolutely no doubt that this student belongs on the Ross campus at UMich. He begins very directly by telling us about himself and his skill set. He gives us a brief evolution of his mathematical interests — how they started and where he will direct them.

He has researched Ross, knows one of their leading professors, knows her academic body of work, knows the specific classes, and has made himself a 4 year plan regarding what he will take and to which programs he will add. He very articulately describes this progression. The reader can clearly imagine him as an enthusiastic participant.

Intermittently, this student references how his education will be applied in healthcare and leadership capacities. He also shares his Cuban culture with us, reminding us that he is more than just academics. Finally, he finishes with a proud determination he will be a Hispanic Ross Man. How could we question that?

These University of Michigan essay examples were compiled by the advising team at CollegeAdvisor.com . If you want to get help writing your University of Michigan application essays from CollegeAdvisor.com Admissions Experts , register with CollegeAdvisor.com today.

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How to Start a College Essay: 5 Effective Techniques

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Impressionable Openers

Descriptions and demonstrations, show vulnerability, be authentic, stay personal, fun & quirky, common mistakes to avoid in your college essay.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Starting a College Essay

College essays are a huge part of your college career. If not huge, one of the biggest, and for someone who has been there and done that, I know the amount of pressure the beginning of a college essay, as well as the entire essay, can put on your shoulders.

Not only are you trying to juggle things like word count and grammar errors, but you're also trying to create the perfect college essay introduction that will attract admissions officers to your application or professors to your writing skills. And that, itself, can feel impossible, fill you with dread and self-doubt, but just breathe. I am here to help all present and future students know how to start a college essay.

Today is all about starting a college essay. I have come up with five easy and effective techniques that will help you create essays so good you're going to leave your readers wanting more , starting with your opening sentence! So, this is for all college students and college applicants. Stress no more! This guide was created to help you write a successful college essay. Let's get into it.

Visit our Scholarship Blog to learn how to create your free Bold profile , and start applying for scholarships designed to help you save BIG on your college education.

how to write the u of m community essay

The beginning of your essay should, first and foremost, always have a strong opening sentence . This sentence sets the tone for not only your readers but for the entire essay. Having a wobbly, almost interesting opener can steer an admissions officer and/or professor away, so you want it to be strong. And it doesn't have to be complicated! Less is more in this situation. Here are a couple of ways you can accomplish this.

  • Look within and be relatable
  • Use your real life for inspiration
  • Think about ways to evoke emotion

Here are some examples of impressionable openers:

  • Example 1: When I was 11 years old, my mother told me she had cancer over breakfast.
  • Example 2: Maybe yellow isn't my favorite color.
  • Example 3: I sat next to this girl in class who made me feel stupid.

DISCLAIMER : your opener should ALWAYS adhere to the essay prompts. These are just a few examples that can capture your reader's attention almost immediately.

In order to keep readers interested, visuals are key . Image-based descriptions will not only add value to your writing, it will give your readers front seats to your essay's journey. These descriptions let actions speak for themselves.

Here is an example of a description and demonstration in an essay:

  • Example 1: "I was sitting on a bar stool when the word 'cancer' hit me like the smell of her coffee brewing on the stove. The Rice Krispies were popping in my cereal bowl, and MTV Jams was playing in the background, yet all I could hear was the sound of doom all around me. The lips of my mother were moving, but I was frozen, crumbling on this stool like my mother's health. She was sick, and I didn't know how sick or what that even meant, and that terrified me."

Why This Works:

Here you can clearly feel the writers emotional state: shocked, still, scared. Not only is this moment at breakfast traumatic, you feel frozen in time with the writer. Using descriptions like this will evoke so much emotion and leave your reader wanting more.

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Something one of my teachers told me in high school was any good essay will have personal elements in it, no matter the topic. That always stuck with me and became the way I approached my college essays. Showing vulnerability in your writing will always guarantee interest. It also evokes emotion.

You can show vulnerability by:

  • Being honest
  • Explaining what's going on inside underneath the exterior
  • Describe what's going on around you at the moment
  • Letting go of the fear of being seen
  • Connecting with the topic
  • Being transparent about mistakes/flaws

Examples of showing vulnerability:

  • Example 1 : My mother telling me she had cancer over breakfast was not on my bingo card this year.
  • Example 2 : I never thought losing someone I love would change me.
  • Example 3: I had to lose everything in order to gain everything.

I know being vulnerable can be tough for some , but showing this side of you to college admissions officers and/or professors will not only make you stand out, but it can also help free you of things that might be weighing on your mind. Not to sound corny, but it can be therapeutic and make you a better writer . Just make sure you are staying on track with the essay prompt, and you're set!

Whether it's believed or not, an admissions officer wants to see pieces of you in your personal statement, so starting your essay by showing authenticity is a major major key. Along with being vulnerable, there are a few ways you can achieve this.

  • Reflect : Take the time to reflect on your experiences, values, and beliefs that have shaped who you are today. Let your values, passions, and interests shine through in your writing.
  • Mind Your Voice : Write in your own voice and avoid trying to sound like someone you're not. Authenticity comes from being genuine and true to yourself.
  • Tell Your Story : Share personal anecdotes and insights that show your unique perspective.
  • Be True to You : Focus on what matters to YOU (as long as you're on topic!). Write about what is meaningful and important to you rather than what you think admissions officers want to hear.

Above all, be open . Showing introspection and self-awareness in your essay will show any admissions committee who you are beneath the surface, as well as your personal growth.

You can also begin your essay being as random and silly as you'd like . It goes hand-in-hand with other important factors like vulnerability and authenticity. But don't get too crazy . Beginning your essay with something strange will definitely draw readers in. Let me show you what I mean.

  • Example 1 : I start my mornings off in silence and solitude to keep people away from me.
  • Example 2 : Sometimes, I like to circle big words in complex articles to learn new words. Yeah, but to also keep one in my back pocket for later use.
  • Example 3 : Being the youngest child means getting away with everything you want, and that's exactly how I like it.

Do you see how each sentence draws you in? Not only are they light-hearted, but they also make you want to know why you want to keep people away in the morning and what kind of weapon you're forming against others with new words. And every youngest sibling will attest to feeling that exact same way. All of these examples are sure to make your essay fun, show who you are, and leave readers wanting more.

mistakes to avoid in college essays

Years of writing college essays have taken me through every high and low of the process possible. And when they're good, they're great! But for some reason, my mistakes stick out more than anything. So, I've compiled a list of common mistakes to avoid when writing your college essay .

  • Avoid Being Cliche - While you want to be captivating, you want to avoid overly used syntax and phrases that could potentially lose your reader's curiosity. For example, "in today's day and age," "follow my heart," "don't judge a book by its cover," etc. are all cliches that can be avoided by thinking outside of the box.
  • Using Vocabulary to be Impressive - I know you want to impress the admissions committees, but it's important to stick to what you know and not what you can allude to. That is, use verbiage that resonates with your personality. Using extravagant words can work against you, and they can also sound forced. College admissions officers want to see the real you, so show it to them.
  • Steer Clear of Controversy - Though it's not said enough, your college essay should tell your personal story and not touch on things that can stir the pot. For instance, talking about politics and religious beliefs may not be the route you want to take UNLESS it's called for in the college essay topic. And if so, stay on track with the essay prompts.
  • Procrastinating : Waiting until the last minute to start writing your essay will bite you in the butt. You will feel rushed and end up writing a poorly crafted piece. Give yourself enough time to complete an essay draft, edit the draft, and repeat this two-step cycle until your essay is complete.
  • Lack of originality : This goes hand-in-hand with avoiding cliches. Your college essay should exude a lot of your personality, so show admissions officers and teachers who you are! Include your cultural background, test scores that you're proud of, any future aspirations, etc. This all depends on the essay prompts, of course, but in my experience, every essay topic has room to show who you are.
  • Ignoring the prompt : This is a major key. STAY ON TRACK. Make sure to carefully read and understand the essay prompt, and write your essay accordingly. The last thing you want to do is write a college essay that has nothing to do with the prompt. Reading is essential here.
  • Lack of focus : If you want to know how to start a college essay, that means knowing how to stay focused. Find a quiet space, turn off electronics, hide your phone, and really nestle into how you want to capture your reader's attention. This will help you use your five senses clearly, keep your writing strong and not write an overly wordy essay. Focus is the tool here.
  • Poor organization : Make sure your essay has a strong structure with clear transitions between paragraphs. An outline will work best to accomplish this. If you go into starting your college essay without a plan, be prepared to hit all roadblocks.
  • Neglecting to Revise and Edit : Like procrastinating, don't fail to revise and edit your work. Always, always, always proofread your essay for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors , as well as clarity and coherence.
  • Not Seeking Feedback : Listen, I know that completing an essay is an accomplishment in itself, and you immediately want to submit it, but it's so beneficial to have others read your essay for feedback. You can only spot so many holes in your work when your eyes are constantly reviewing it, so a second, third, or even fourth set of eyes can help point out areas for improvement.

Above all, trust the writing process. Though I do want you to be aware of your jargon, don't get too wrapped up in thinking you're making a mistake. That's what editing is for! Once you complete your college essay, you should always revise and edit accordingly . What you thought sounded good might make you edit it to sound great. Just keep in mind that many colleges are looking for honesty and authenticity vs how well you can sound on paper . So, if you're aware of these factors, you'll be good to go.

ways to overcome writers block

Ways to Overcome Writer's Block

Take it from someone who has suffered from chronic writer's block, it's a pain to get through . Imagine being on a writing streak so good that when you stop, the entire essay writing process stops as a whole. It's definitely a challenge, but after 10 years of writing essays and really honing my craft, I learned a few things that have helped me get through even the thickest of writer's blocks, and I want to share them with you. Check them out:

  • Take a break : This works every single time. Take a short break and step away from your computer to clear your mind and come back with a fresh perspective. For me, 15 minutes is all I ever need. If you need more time, that's okay. Just try not to make your break a rest.
  • Freewriting : Sometimes, I'd start writing without worrying about my structure or grammar to get the ideas flowing, and surprisingly enough, I found my essay taking a pleasant turn.
  • Change your environment : Move around. Don't underestimate the effects of a different location or workspace to stimulate creativity. Try coffee shops, bookstores, a park, or a new room in your house. New environment, new energy.
  • Set small goals : This one is actually the most important. Some people get overwhelmed with the word "essay" for things like lack of proper writing skills, pressure to write a great essay, etc. But if you try breaking down your writing task into smaller, manageable chunks to make it less overwhelming, it can help. For example, set a goal of three paragraphs one day, take a day to edit those paragraphs, two more the next day, and so forth. Find a formula that works for you.
  • Brainstorming : Write down all your ideas--everything. No matter how small you think the idea is, write it down. Even if these ideas seem unrelated, they will help you generate new thoughts and connections.
  • Read or listen to music : It took me a while to realize this helps, but engaging in other forms of art can inspire new ideas and break through mental blocks. And new creativity can lead you to impress admissions officers.
  • Talk it out : As a writer, it's hard to let people in on the creative process, but discussing my ideas with a friend, family member, or colleague helped me gain new perspectives and insights.
  • Relax and Meditate : Hear me out: it works! Practice deep breathing and/or meditation to reduce stress and anxiety that may be contributing to writer's block.

I won't sugarcoat it: the college application process can be intimidating , but it doesn't have to throw you off your game. When it comes to college essays, I see them as opportunities to be fun and expressive. Trust me when I say if you have fun with it, you'll attract the reader's attention , paint vivid details, and write an essay that will leave the admissions officer wanting you at their school. So, take it one step at a time and watch your personal statement come to life.


How can I make my college essay stand out to admissions officers?

Simply put, be yourself. As long as you stay on track with the essay's topic, showing pieces of yourself will allow admissions officers to know more about who you are. Essays are meant to show readers who you are, how you feel, and what you think naturally, not robotically, so be authentic in your writing, and you'll be sure to stand out amongst the rest.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when writing a college essay?

Some common mistakes to avoid in your essay are using cliches and boring wording. You also want to avoid procrastinating, wasting time, not focusing, not editing, etc. When writing your essay, you want to make sure you give your writing the time and attention it deserves, so make sure you're aware of what is pulling you away from your writing. This will help you stay focused. If you have any other doubts, refer to the section about mistakes in this article and let it guide you to success.

How important is the college essay in the admissions process?

Your college essay is key in the admissions process . It's an admissions committee's first impression of you as a writer and potential student, so it should be taken very seriously. Trying to cut corners or rush through the writing process will be obvious, and it will stand out more than things like test scores, academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and any other positive influence you've had in your life. So, don't take the easy way out and really work on your essay.

Feeling confident in your college essay skills and want to explore some other essay content? Explore our blog on the comma splice to enhance your technical writing skills!

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Secondary Medical School Application Essays: How to Shine

Emphasizing fit and showing authenticity help medical school secondary essays stand out, experts say.

Tips for Secondary Med School Essays

Close-up of young woman brainstorming ideas on paper, looking for inspiration

Getty Images | iStockphoto

One of best pieces of advice when writing an application essay is to be authentic.

Key Takeaways

  • Secondary medical school essays should highlight why an applicant is a good fit.
  • Applicants should submit the essays early without compromising quality.
  • It's important to be authentic in essay responses.

After receiving primary applications, most medical schools ask applicants to complete a secondary application, which typically includes additional essay questions. While primary essay prompts ask why you're pursuing medicine, medical school secondary essays focus on you and how you fit with a specific school.

Secondary essay prompts vary by school, but they're generally designed to help med schools learn about you at a deeper level. They may ask you to reflect on what makes you who you are, a time when you worked with a population different than yourself, an occasion where you asked for help or a time when you worked in a team. They may ask how you spent a gap year before applying to medical school or what you did after your undergraduate degree.

"What we are trying to figure out is if this is a candidate that can fulfill the premedical competencies and whether they are mission-aligned," says Dr. Wendy Jackson, associate dean for admissions at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine . “Can they help fulfill the needs that our institution is trying to deliver?”

A lot rides on these essays, but keeping a few best practices in mind can make the process less daunting.

Emphasize Fit

The first thing medical schools look for is whether an applicant will be a good fit for the school’s mission, Jackson says.

“I would challenge someone who is completing a secondary application to understand the mission of the school and envision how they are going to contribute to that,” she says. “The vast majority of schools are going to ask why you chose their institution, so you need to be prepared to answer that.”

Some secondary essay questions are optional, but experts recommend answering them even though they're extra work. For example, the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Tennessee asks applicants what makes them interested in the school.

“We just want to see if they’re a good fit for us and that they’ve done a little bit of homework about Vanderbilt," says Jennifer Kimble, director of admissions at Vanderbilt's medical school. "We want to make sure that the students we admit are going to be happy with their Vanderbilt experience.”

Avoid focusing on what you’re going to gain from the school – schools are really asking how you'll be an asset to the program.

"It’s almost like if you’re trying to date someone and you tell them, ‘Here’s what I’m going to get from this relationship,’ without saying, ‘We’re better off together,’” says Shirag Shemmassian, founder of Shemmassian Academic Consulting. “You have to sell the idea that you’re bettering one another and how you’re better together than apart. I think students often miss that latter component."

Don't Procrastinate

The medical school application process is often compared to a marathon, but the final steps may feel like a sprint. Applicants typically receive secondary application requests in late June, and in some cases schools want those back within a matter of weeks. Others set deadlines months down the road.

Either way, because of rolling admissions , it's best to send essays in as early as possible without compromising quality, Shemmassian says.

The earlier an applicant submits materials, the less competition they typically face, experts say. For example, Vanderbilt receives nearly 7,000 applications per year. Of those, roughly 600 applicants will be asked to interview and around 260 will be offered admission for 96 spots.

"At the beginning of the cycle, our calendar is wide open and we’re very open to who we bring in for an interview," Kimble says. "Down the road when we only have 30 seats left, it’s highly selective who those candidates are that get those coveted 30 interview spots that are left over."

Prewrite Essays

Applicants won't know the specific language of secondary essay prompts until schools send them, but in many cases, essay prompts are similar year to year and the previous year's prompts are often published on a school's admissions website, experts say. Some schools may change or tweak questions, but you can generally get a head start by prewriting essays based on previous prompts.

"As the new ones come out, you can modify as needed," Shemmassian says. "I would say that about 70% to 80% of prompts will remain the same or similar. If they change, you can usually adapt an essay you’ve written for another school."

Secondary essays vary in length and number. Vanderbilt requires applicants to submit an 800-word essay and two 600-word essays. Some schools may require close to 10 secondary essays. Shemmassian says this is significantly more writing than applicants are used to, so budgeting time is crucial.

But applicants should take care when prewriting essays and make sure each is tailored to the specific school with the correct school name, experts say. Jackson says she's read plenty of essays where applicants included the wrong school name and it cost them.

“You may think you can save time by cutting and pasting or taking half of a previously written essay response and making a modification,” Jackson says. “Be careful, because the questions vary from institution to institution.”

Experts say applicants often neglect to fully read prompts in their haste to complete answers. Though there's a time crunch, it's vital to thoroughly read the prompt and answer the question fully without grammatical or spelling errors.

“That seems kind of silly, but I think we can get going down a road when we’re writing and feel like we’ve completed and written something well but look back and never really have a response to the true question being asked," Jackson says.

Be Authentic

Medical school applicants tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves to write something that schools haven't read before, Kimble says. Given that med schools sift through thousands of applicants a year, "we’ve read all sorts of scenarios in life, so take that pressure and put it on the shelf," she says. "That’s not a concern for us. We aren’t looking for something that’s totally innovative."

Experts say schools are mostly looking for authenticity and an organic, genuine tone. The tone "can make or break an applicant," Jackson says.

It may be tempting, especially given time constraints, to rely on outside help – such as ChatGPT or other AI-powered software – to write essays. While some professors and admissions officers have embraced AI to help automate certain processes, Kimble says she strongly discourages med school applicants from using AI to help with secondary essays.

"We had an (application) that you could clearly see was not written by a human voice," she says. "It sounded very computer generated, so we ended up passing on the candidate just because we want to hear their story in their own words."

A Secondary Essay Example

Shemmassian compiles more than 1,000 sample secondary essays each year, using prompts from more than 150 medical schools in various states, and offers them to paying clients. The excerpted example below, created by Shemmassian's team and used with their permission, shows what he considers to be a successful diversity-themed essay in response to a Yale University School of Medicine prompt that asks applicants to reflect on how their background and experiences contribute to the school's focus on diversity and how it will inform their future role as a doctor.

As a child, one of my favorite times of the year was the summer, when I would travel to Yemen… at least until I turned twelve. Suddenly, the traditional and, in my Yemeni American view, restrictive laws for women, applied to me. Perhaps the most representative of these laws was having to cover my hair with a scarf-like garment. Staying true to my values, I decided against returning to Yemen, thereby losing a vital connection to my culture. However, this estrangement did not inhibit my growth.

The 500-word response continues with how the applicant met a Yemeni student who grew up in France and was barred from wearing a headscarf due to a school uniform policy. Where the applicant saw the headscarf as restrictive, the other student saw it as a connection to her roots. The applicant describes how although the same object held different meanings to two people from the same background, she used that to appreciate different perspectives and to advocate for a woman's right to express herself.

Later that year, I applied this lesson in perspective to my work as a clinical coordinator, when a patient walked into the office and handed me a piece of paper explaining she only spoke Arabic...By thinking critically while vernacularly translating the doctor’s advice, I was directly involved in the process of her medical care. Because of my experience in exploring the multi-cultural barriers I faced alongside the Yemeni French student who cherished her headscarf, I spent time talking to this Yemeni patient about the barriers she had faced in receiving care.
This experience motivated me to help overcome cultural healthcare barriers and disparities, showcasing my devotion to equitable treatment by creating a new protocol within the clinic where I work. Now, when scheduling patients over the phone, we ask if they have any language preferences, and we have a series of scripts we can use during each patient’s treatment.

The applicant then drives home why she believes she's a good fit for the school.

My background and experiences will contribute to Yale School of Medicine’s diversity and inform my future role as a physician by creating a student organization that holds informational workshops, utilizing my unique experiences to connect with Yale’s diverse patient population, and working to address healthcare disparities as a future physician. I envision these informational workshops would operate in the Haven Free Clinic patient waiting rooms to empower all patients, regardless of their background.

This essay is successful because it does more than tell essay readers about the applicant's background, Shemmassian says. It shows how the applicant grew "into a more compassionate and culturally humble future physician who will help patients overcome health care barriers."

"Strong diversity essays will always show admissions committees how a unique trait or life experience will help them become a better physician," he says. "This essay is especially successful because the applicant connects their experiences and what they’ve learned because of them to the Yale School of Medicine itself. This is an applicant who is already thinking deeply about not just what they can get out of medical school but how they can contribute to the values and mission of the school they attend."

Searching for a medical school? Get our  complete rankings  of Best Medical Schools.

Medical School Application Mistakes

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How to Write the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities Essays 2023-2024

University of Minnesota – Twin Cities requires applicants to submit two supplemental essays of 150 words or less. Applicants who intend to pursue a nursing degree must submit an additional three essays of 250 words or less. This post contains some tips for how to make your responses to UMN’s prompts as engaging as possible.

Since UMN is a fairly selective school, writing strong essays are a great way to make yourself stand out throughout the application process. Do you want to know your chances of getting into UMN? Calculate your chances for free right now.

University of Minnesota–Twin Cities Supplemental Essay Prompts

All applicants.

Prompt 1: The University values diversity, broadly defined to include diversity of experiences, perspectives, backgrounds, and talents. Enrolling a diverse community of scholars interested in learning with and from each other fosters discussion and discovery inside and outside of the classroom. Please share briefly how you might contribute to, or benefit from, our community of scholars. (150 words) 

Prompt 2: Please include an explanation of why you would like to study the major(s) you have selected. You may also use this space to indicate your interest in other major(s) in the colleges listed above. (150 words) 

Nursing Majors

Prompt 1: Why have you chosen to pursue a nursing career? Explain how your experiences shaped your decision. (250 words)

Prompt 2:  How have your studies and activities prepared you for a career in nursing? (250 words)

Prompt 3: Provide a brief reflection about why you feel the University of Minnesota School of Nursing will be the best fit with your degree and career plans. (250 words)

The University values diversity, broadly defined to include diversity of experiences, perspectives, backgrounds, and talents. Enrolling a diverse community of scholars interested in learning with and from each other fosters discussion and discovery inside and outside of the classroom. Please share briefly how you might contribute to, or benefit from, our community of scholars. (150 words)

Understanding the prompt.

The theme of this prompt, diversity, seeks to find students who have had experiences that have led them to view life in a certain way. There is no right or wrong way to answer this question, but admissions officers want to know how your background will contribute to their college’s community in academic and nonacademic ways.

The other half of this prompt asks how you would benefit or contribute to the University of Minnesota’s community. You’ll want to research what you would gain as being a part of the community. This isn’t just limited to actual communities you would join at UM, but you can also discuss the traits and qualities you have that may benefit the community as a whole.

Picking a Topic

For this prompt, you’ll want to brainstorm some communities that you are a member of and understand very well. Perhaps this is a religious or special interest group, or a group you belong to as a result of your ethnicity or gender. Some other groups you might consider would be a language you speak, your hometown, or your income class. Next, write down some adjectives that you associate with these communities and what you’ve learned about yourself and others through these communities. Below are some questions to help you brainstorm: 

  • What about this community is special to you?
  • Have you learned any new skills or traits by being a part of this community?
  • How would you describe a member of this community?
  • If you had to describe this community in one word, what would it be?
  • Has this community changed over time? Have you changed with it?
  • What were the formative experiences associated with this community? What happened?

You’ll also want to know some information about UMN students. Are they curious learners? How do you know this? Sometimes, a campus visit or even a visit to the school’s website can provide ample information on student life and interests. Make sure to take some notes on this, and write down a few adjectives about academic and campus life at UMN. Once you’ve answered all these questions, you can start figuring out how your experiences can be tied to college. 

Lastly, you’ll have to determine how you can benefit from UMN’s community. This could be through a shared interest you’ve had in high school or college, or even simply a trait that you feel is shared between you and UMN students. For example, maybe you’ve realized that your high school dance group taught you the value of persistence and determination which you noticed as you talked with a UMN student during a campus tour. You could talk about this in this essay.

Writing the Essay

As you write the essay, you should dedicate about ¼ of the paragraph to background on the community that you’ll be discussing. The remaining essay should be about what you learned through this community, and how you’d bring the lessons you learned through it to UMN.

The last part of the essay should be dedicated to discussing how you can benefit from the UMN community. You’ll want to tie your story back in with UMN and how going to the university can help you grow or develop even further.

Mistakes to Avoid

Although this essay gives you ample creative freedom, there are still some things that you will want to avoid. First of all, try not to dwell on negative experiences. While you can certainly discuss these in your essay, admissions officers tend to prefer essays that have a positive ending. Additionally, you’ll want to be very organized as you write this essay. There are many moving parts to the prompt, and the last thing you want to do is leave the admissions officers confused as they read your response. 

Example Scenario

Brooke, a high school senior, is applying to UMN. For this essay, she chooses to talk about her extracurricular involvement in a community for Spanish speakers. Through this community, Brooke has realized that she is a curious learner who has learned to appreciate cultural misunderstandings because it has helped her connect with others on a deep, personal level. In her essay, Brooke may talk about how UMN students are curious learners, and how she wishes to be involved in the school’s Center for Community Engaged Learning. 

Please include an explanation of why you would like to study the major(s) you have selected. You may also use this space to indicate your interest in other major(s) in the colleges listed above. (150 words)

General strategy.

This is a classic example of the “ Why This Major? ” essay question. In approaching this prompt, try to think of it as straightforwardly as possible; the university wants to briefly know what your reasoning behind studying your major is, and whether you are considering other fields as well. Colleges ask this question to differentiate applicants who might have similar grades and test scores. 

Note that you only have 150 words, so keep your answer succinct. The key here is to be specific to UMN’s offerings as well as your prior experiences and current interests. A common blunder is to mention money or prestige — avoid these topics at all costs. The admissions officers want to see that you are genuinely passionate about what you do or want to pursue.

To effectively answer this prompt, you need to show admissions officers why you like the subject rather than merely telling them. Focus on why you enjoy the subject: What niches in this subject area appeal to you most? Why do you have a personal connection to it? Use imagery and descriptive language to create an immersive level of detail that engages your readers.

Picking Resources

You also need to connect your passions to UMN’s school-specific offerings. This underscores your interest in the school to admissions officers. A great way to research for this response is by perusing the school website. You can also communicate in-person or virtually with admissions staff, alumni, or current students to get a better idea of how you and your interests fit into UMN. For instance, a prospective food science major could respond like this:

“Ever since I can remember, cheese has been my favorite food. Whether I’m spreading a smoked gouda on a cracker or melting some creamy parmesan into a bowl of noodles, cheese consistently provides me with a reliable, hearty meal. Last summer, my sister and I experimented in the kitchen and made our own mozzarella; that intricate process sparked my desire to learn more about the science behind food. I want to further explore my passion for this delectable substance through UMN’s CFANS Food Science program. Through classes like Sensory Evaluation of Food Quality, I can learn what factors go into a nutritious cheese and how to taste the difference between a healthy and spoiled block of cheddar. Through the Baumler Lab, I can explore whether antimicrobials in chili peppers can help keep a wheel of brie fresh for an extra week or two.”  

This response deftly weaves the student’s current passion and knowledge of cheese with potential future endeavors they could carry out in college. The essay tone is casual but the use of specific detail demonstrates passion. The author grounds each hypothetical activity to a specific UMN offering.

Strategy for Multiple Majors

If you have another major you are considering, split the 150 words to devote enough time to both subjects. However, keep in mind that you might not be able to elaborate on each one enough to craft a thorough response. Try explaining why both subjects are interesting to you, and if you have any space left, you may want to write about how the subjects relate to each other, and why studying one gives you a deeper understanding of the other. This will tie the essay together, and give a clearer picture to admissions officers as to why you would like to pursue both.

For instance, a student could first write about studying mathematics, then follow-up with writing about art as a second interest. Additionally, the student could end with how mathematics influences art in symmetry, space, and perspective, and how the study of mathematics is necessary for creating art.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be equipped to write a stellar response to UMN’s supplement prompts. Good luck! If you’re applying to Nursing, stick around for a breakdown of those prompts. 

Nursing Applicants, Prompt 1

Why have you chosen to pursue a nursing career explain how your experiences shaped your decision. (250 words).

This question, like most questions for specialized programs, is intended to assess your commitment to a difficult, long-term path–as a high school senior. As such, your primary focus here should be to convey, with concise focus and concrete examples, your commitment to and passion for this path.

Furthermore, in such a short space, it’s crucial that you remain focused. There might be a million reasons that you want to be a nurse–and that’s great! Just don’t list them all here. Your reader won’t assume that this response is an exhaustive list of all the reasons you want to be a nurse–instead, they’ll assume that you’ve chosen one or two of the most compelling experiences you’ve had to illustrate the core motivation behind this aspiration.

This brings me to the final important thing to note: With why -driven essays, your focus should be on digging beyond basic explanation. Try to show not only the experiences that have inspired you but also what your deepest motivations and aspirations are. What drives you? What makes you tick? What do you aspire to do with your life? Use specific examples to offer insight into these important, deeply personal questions, even as you explain why you want to be a nurse.

Picking Examples

Though strong responses will have an abstract/aspirational dimension, your response should still be grounded in concrete examples. This means that your writing process should still begin with some brainstorming as you search for concrete examples. Think back: is there an obvious experience that made you go “Aha! I want to be a nurse?”

Strong experiences to focus on can include:

  • Family or close friends in health-related fields who have inspired you.
  • Your own medical experiences, as a patient.
  • Experiences with close family members or friends who have been patients and who have been cared for by excellent nurses.
  • An internship or shadowing experience.
  • An academic or pre-professional course that exposed you to nursing.

The experiences you choose to depict should be vivid and meaningful enough that you can offer a brief, but detailed, description that shows the reader how they impacted you. As such, a brief glimpse of a nurse on a break from work or an impression you got from watching a TV show might be too superficial to develop as an experience that “shaped your decision.”

One note of caution: Note that the next prompt asks about how your “studies and activities” have prepared you for a career in nursing. This means that you’ll get a chance later to focus on specific academic or extracurricular things that have given you the skills and knowledge to dive into nursing studies. Here, your focus should be on motivations and interests, not preparation.

Digging a Little Deeper

Once you’ve chosen your example, take a moment to consider what this experience touched in you. Was it your desire to help others? Your anger at the suffering in the world? Your fascination with biology and the mechanisms of the human body? These sorts of more abstract motivations are what, ultimately, will provide a deep, satisfying answer to this question’s “why.” However, you need to “pull” these sorts of deeper points out of your examples.

  • If your deeper motivation is a fascination with the human body and a desire to help others, you could focus on a personal medical experience.
  • Describe a moment of reflection as you sat in your bed while a nurse drew your blood. You could watch her care and consideration intently, moved by it, but also fascinated by the procedure itself. This “moment” could be framed as helping you realize that these two passions could go together.

Structuring Your Response

A strong response will seamlessly interweave introspection/deeper reflection and concrete examples. In order to plan your essay, you should consider the relationship between your motivations/interests and the example(s) you’re giving. It’s sort of a “chicken and egg” question, but your job is to decide which came first.

  • In this case, you might start by describing that initial impulse, then jump into the example of your shadowing experience, then reflect on how it shaped/specified your long-term aspirations.
  • In this case, it might make sense to dive right into the “moment” when you found yourself in a hospital, fascinated by the procedures going on around you/happening to you. Then, you can extrapolate from this example, discussing what you realized about yourself and your long-term goals.

Nursing Applicants, Prompt 2

How have your studies and activities prepared you for a career in nursing  (250 words).

This is a fairly straightforward question. However, as with the previous question, the key here is to not go overboard. Your focus should not be to exhaustively list everything that has prepared you in any way for a career in nursing. Instead, pick 2-4 specific academic and/or extracurricular activities to discuss.

Crucially, this should not just be a list: for each example, go into detail. Explain what specific skills or information each experience you cite has given you; explain how this has prepared you to become a nurse.

Choosing Your Examples

This essay should cite specific studies and activities, so your first order of business should be to pick which studies or activities you want to discuss. However, your examples shouldn’t be chosen just because they “seem” like the good nursing prep. Instead, try working backward.

First, think about what skills and knowledge you have that would make you a good nurse. Then, think about how you acquired these competencies. Whatever comes out of this last reflection will be a potential “study or activity” to include in your response. Given the framing of the prompt, however, you should try to focus on clearly defined things, like courses or extracurriculars, rather than on personal experiences.

Strong examples could include:

  • Your anatomy course.
  • Your internship at a local hospital.
  • Your job, which has given you strong administrative skills (record-keeping is essential for nursing!).
  • Your biology course.
  • Your food science course, which has taught you a lot about nutrition (also key for nursing, though not always adequately covered!).
  • Membership in a club like Best Buddies that lets you connect with and help those who might be differently-abled than you are.

Importantly, avoid choosing redundant examples. Each course or activity that you describe should touch on a different aspect of your preparation.

Writing Your Essay

Once you’ve chosen your examples, the key is just to weave them together. The key, however, is to make sure that for every example you give, you do three things: (1) Explain the study experience activity in some detail; (2) describe what skills or knowledge you gained; and (3) explain how this has prepared you to become a nurse.

If several of your examples do show similar knowledge/skills, you can group them together.

  • For example, if your overall thesis is that you have the specific knowledge of the human body and practical experience of engaging empathetically with others that you’ll need to be a nurse, you could have two main paragraphs.
  • The first could focus on your knowledge of the human body, describing your anatomy course and your experience working in a physical therapist’s office.
  • You can explain how this knowledge base will allow you to rapidly develop efficient mastery of everyday procedures that nurses must conduct.
  • The second could focus on your experiences empathetically helping others: you could describe your involvement as a peer mental health counselor and your volunteer work at a local nursing home.
  • Then, you could explain how this comfort with comforting and helping others will allow you to be an effective and compassionate nurse.

If your examples all feel quite disparate, that’s fine. Each paragraph can focus on a different skill/area of knowledge–just be sure that all three components (example, detailed description, and explanation of how this will allow you to be a good nurse) are present. Then, try to add transitions and tie all your examples together in a strong, specific, personal conclusion.

Nursing Applicants, Prompt 3

Please provide a brief reflection about why you feel the university of minnesota school of nursing will be the best fit with your degree and career plans. (250 words).

First, a note about what this prompt is not asking: This prompt is not asking you to explain why you want to be a nurse (you’ve already done that, hopefully, in your first response!) or why you like the University of Minnesota in a broad sense. This is a very specific question about why this particular program fits your degree and career plans .

Given this, your response should contain three elements:

(1) A statement of your career and degree plans;

(2) a reflection on key elements of the University of Minnesota’s Nursing Program; and

(3) an explanation of how these elements facilitate the achievement of your plans).

These elements can be combined in different ways, but all strong essays will contain all three in some form .

Defining Your Goals

Unlike most essays here, this one doesn’t require the incorporation of specific examples, though you might end up giving specific examples of what you aspire to do with your life.

Instead, you should begin stating your goals. What do you aspire to do with your nursing degree? Note that you need to go beyond “I want to be a nurse” as your career plan–this is already self-evident. Instead, you should explain the particular kind of nursing you want to practice, or, more abstractly, the kind of impact you want to have on your patients.

Furthermore, you might also mention aspirations beyond simply working as a nurse: perhaps you would like to eventually advocate for better nursing practices on a policy level, or work in a more managerial or administrative role in a hospital. Feel free to be as specific as you like here. The more clearly you set your “targets,” the more focused, personal and powerful your essay will be.

Familiarizing Yourself with the Program

Though you are hopefully already familiar with the program, take some time to brush up on its essential features. Identify particular requirements that really fit your goals. Go beyond what is readily accessible on their website’s front page.

Try making a list of all the unique features of the program that excite you and that you know you couldn’t find on a regular undergrad-nursing school path. Then, dig a bit deeper. Find specific mentors, courses, labs, etc., that really excite you.

Once you have this list, go back to the goals that you’ve defined. Which of these resources fit your goals? Can you draw a line from one particular offering of UMTC’s Nursing Program to achieving that aspiration?

Linking Program Features to Your Goals

This brings us to the final step: explaining exactly how the features of the Nursing Program fit your goals. Remember, the key here is to show how this program will better fit your aspirations than a normal path (undergrad, then nursing school). You should not spend too many words explicitly making negative statements about a “normal” path–however, you should avoid elaborating on things that a “regular” path could also provide to you.

For example:  

  • If you’re really interested in supporting patients suffering from cognition-altering brain conditions, you might want to talk about how the opportunity to work closely with faculty from an early point in your education will really steep you in different approaches to brain trauma. Emphasize how this sort of close study and mentorship simply wouldn’t be possible in another program; you could explain how this sort of close work early in your studies will allow you to focus, as you continue to take classes, on problems and questions that arise as you start to learn more about current approaches to brain maladies and trauma.
  • If your long-term goal is to work in hospital administration, trying to raise nurse’s voices in hospital decision-making, then you might focus on aspects of the program that will allow you to become more familiar with administrative dimensions of nursing. 

Where to Get Your University of Minnesota–Twin Cities Essays Edited 

Do you want feedback on your UMN Twin Cities essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools.  Find the right advisor for you  to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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how to write the u of m community essay

First-year applicants: Essays, activities & academics

Rather than asking you to write one long essay, the MIT application consists of several short response questions and essays designed to help us get to know you. Remember that this is not a writing test. Be honest, be open, be authentic—this is your opportunity to connect with us.

You should certainly be thoughtful about your essays, but if you’re thinking too much—spending a lot of time stressing or strategizing about what makes you “look best,” as opposed to the answers that are honest and easy—you’re doing it wrong.

Our questions

For the 2023–2024 application, we’re asking these short answer essay questions:

  • What field of study appeals to you the most right now? (Note: Applicants select from a drop-down list.) Tell us more about why this field of study at MIT appeals to you.
  • We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it.
  • How has the world you come from—including your opportunities, experiences, and challenges—shaped your dreams and aspirations?
  • MIT brings people with diverse backgrounds together to collaborate, from tackling the world’s biggest challenges to lending a helping hand. Describe one way you have collaborated with others to learn from them, with them, or contribute to your community together.
  • How did you manage a situation or challenge that you didn’t expect? What did you learn from it?

Depending on the question, we’re looking for responses of approximately 100–200 words each. There is also one final, open-ended, additional-information text box where you can tell us anything else you think we really ought to know.

Please use our form, not a resume, to list your activities. There is only enough space to list four things—please choose the four that mean the most to you and tell us a bit about them.

Self-reported Coursework Form

How you fill out this form will not make or break your application, so don’t stress about it. Use your best judgment—we’re simply trying to get a clear picture of your academic preparation by subject area. We see thousands of different transcripts, so it really helps us to view your coursework and grades in a consistent format.

Here are a few quick tips to help you complete this section:

  • The self-reported coursework should be completed by students in U.S. school systems only. If you attend an international school, we’ll just use your transcript.
  • The information you provide does not replace your official high school transcript, which must be sent to us from your school to verify your self-reported information (in order to avoid accidental misrepresentation, it might help to have a copy of your high school transcript in front of you while completing this form).
  • Avoid abbreviations, if at all possible, and enter the names of your school courses by subject area. Please include all classes you have taken and are currently taking. If your courses were taken outside of your high school (at a local junior college or university, for example), tell us where they were taken in the “Class Name” field.
  • In the “Grade Received” field, list term and/or final grades for each class, as found on your school transcript (semester, trimester, quarter, final, etc.). Use one entry only per class. For example, it’s not necessary to use a separate entry for each semester of the same class. Place all grades for a class in the same field, separating grades with commas.
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When Prison and Mental Illness Amount to a Death Sentence

The downward spiral of one inmate, Markus Johnson, shows the larger failures of the nation’s prisons to care for the mentally ill.

Supported by

By Glenn Thrush

Photographs by Carlos Javier Ortiz

Glenn Thrush spent more than a year reporting this article, interviewing close to 50 people and reviewing court-obtained body-camera footage and more than 1,500 pages of documents.

  • Published May 5, 2024 Updated May 7, 2024

Markus Johnson slumped naked against the wall of his cell, skin flecked with pepper spray, his face a mask of puzzlement, exhaustion and resignation. Four men in black tactical gear pinned him, his face to the concrete, to cuff his hands behind his back.

He did not resist. He couldn’t. He was so gravely dehydrated he would be dead by their next shift change.

Listen to this article with reporter commentary

“I didn’t do anything,” Mr. Johnson moaned as they pressed a shield between his shoulders.

It was 1:19 p.m. on Sept. 6, 2019, in the Danville Correctional Center, a medium-security prison a few hours south of Chicago. Mr. Johnson, 21 and serving a short sentence for gun possession, was in the throes of a mental collapse that had gone largely untreated, but hardly unwatched.

He had entered in good health, with hopes of using the time to gain work skills. But for the previous three weeks, Mr. Johnson, who suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, had refused to eat or take his medication. Most dangerous of all, he had stealthily stopped drinking water, hastening the physical collapse that often accompanies full-scale mental crises.

Mr. Johnson’s horrific downward spiral, which has not been previously reported, represents the larger failures of the nation’s prisons to care for the mentally ill. Many seriously ill people receive no treatment . For those who do, the outcome is often determined by the vigilance and commitment of individual supervisors and frontline staff, which vary greatly from system to system, prison to prison, and even shift to shift.

The country’s jails and prisons have become its largest provider of inpatient mental health treatment, with 10 times as many seriously mentally ill people now held behind bars as in hospitals. Estimating the population of incarcerated people with major psychological problems is difficult, but the number is likely 200,000 to 300,000, experts say.

Many of these institutions remain ill-equipped to handle such a task, and the burden often falls on prison staff and health care personnel who struggle with the dual roles of jailer and caregiver in a high-stress, dangerous, often dehumanizing environment.

In 2021, Joshua McLemore , a 29-year-old with schizophrenia held for weeks in an isolation cell in Jackson County, Ind., died of organ failure resulting from a “refusal to eat or drink,” according to an autopsy. In April, New York City agreed to pay $28 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of Nicholas Feliciano, a young man with a history of mental illness who suffered severe brain damage after attempting to hang himself on Rikers Island — as correctional officers stood by.

Mr. Johnson’s mother has filed a wrongful-death suit against the state and Wexford Health Sources, a for-profit health care contractor in Illinois prisons. The New York Times reviewed more than 1,500 pages of reports, along with depositions taken from those involved. Together, they reveal a cascade of missteps, missed opportunities, potential breaches of protocol and, at times, lapses in common sense.

A woman wearing a jeans jacket sitting at a table showing photos of a young boy on her cellphone.

Prison officials and Wexford staff took few steps to intervene even after it became clear that Mr. Johnson, who had been hospitalized repeatedly for similar episodes and recovered, had refused to take medication. Most notably, they did not transfer him to a state prison facility that provides more intensive mental health treatment than is available at regular prisons, records show.

The quality of medical care was also questionable, said Mr. Johnson’s lawyers, Sarah Grady and Howard Kaplan, a married legal team in Chicago. Mr. Johnson lost 50 to 60 pounds during three weeks in solitary confinement, but officials did not initiate interventions like intravenous feedings or transfer him to a non-prison hospital.

And they did not take the most basic step — dialing 911 — until it was too late.

There have been many attempts to improve the quality of mental health treatment in jails and prisons by putting care on par with punishment — including a major effort in Chicago . But improvements have proved difficult to enact and harder to sustain, hampered by funding and staffing shortages.

Lawyers representing the state corrections department, Wexford and staff members who worked at Danville declined to comment on Mr. Johnson’s death, citing the unresolved litigation. In their interviews with state police investigators, and in depositions, employees defended their professionalism and adherence to procedure, while citing problems with high staff turnover, difficult work conditions, limited resources and shortcomings of co-workers.

But some expressed a sense of resignation about the fate of Mr. Johnson and others like him.

Prisoners have “much better chances in a hospital, but that’s not their situation,” said a senior member of Wexford’s health care team in a deposition.

“I didn’t put them in prison,” he added. “They are in there for a reason.”

Markus Mison Johnson was born on March 1, 1998, to a mother who believed she was not capable of caring for him.

Days after his birth, he was taken in by Lisa Barker Johnson, a foster mother in her 30s who lived in Zion, Ill., a working-class city halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee. Markus eventually became one of four children she adopted from different families.

The Johnson house is a lively split level, with nieces, nephews, grandchildren and neighbors’ children, family keepsakes, video screens and juice boxes. Ms. Johnson sits at its center on a kitchen chair, chin resting on her hand as children wander over to share their thoughts, or to tug on her T-shirt to ask her to be their bathroom buddy.

From the start, her bond with Markus was particularly powerful, in part because the two looked so much alike, with distinctive dimpled smiles. Many neighbors assumed he was her biological son. The middle name she chose for him was intended to convey that message.

“Mison is short for ‘my son,’” she said standing over his modest footstone grave last summer.

He was happy at home. School was different. His grades were good, but he was intensely shy and was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in elementary school.

That was around the time the bullying began. His sisters were fierce defenders, but they could only do so much. He did the best he could, developing a quick, taunting tongue.

These experiences filled him with a powerful yearning to fit in.

It was not to be.

When he was around 15, he called 911 in a panic, telling the dispatcher he saw two men standing near the small park next to his house threatening to abduct children playing there. The officers who responded found nothing out of the ordinary, and rang the Johnsons’ doorbell.

He later told his mother he had heard a voice telling him to “protect the kids.”

He was hospitalized for the first time at 16, and given medications that stabilized him for stretches of time. But the crises would strike every six months or so, often triggered by his decision to stop taking his medication.

His family became adept at reading signs he was “getting sick.” He would put on his tan Timberlands and a heavy winter coat, no matter the season, and perch on the edge of his bed as if bracing for battle. Sometimes, he would cook his own food, paranoid that someone might poison him.

He graduated six months early, on the dean’s list, but was rudderless, and hanging out with younger boys, often paying their way.

His mother pointed out the perils of buying friendship.

“I don’t care,” he said. “At least I’ll be popular for a minute.”

Zion’s inviting green grid of Bible-named streets belies the reality that it is a rough, unforgiving place to grow up. Family members say Markus wanted desperately to prove he was tough, and emulated his younger, reckless group of friends.

Like many of them, he obtained a pistol. He used it to hold up a convenience store clerk for $425 in January 2017, according to police records. He cut a plea deal for two years of probation, and never explained to his family what had made him do it.

But he kept getting into violent confrontations. In late July 2018, he was arrested in a neighbor’s garage with a handgun he later admitted was his. He was still on probation for the robbery, and his public defender negotiated a plea deal that would send him to state prison until January 2020.

An inpatient mental health system

Around 40 percent of the about 1.8 million people in local, state and federal jails and prison suffer from at least one mental illness, and many of these people have concurrent issues with substance abuse, according to recent Justice Department estimates.

Psychological problems, often exacerbated by drug use, often lead to significant medical problems resulting from a lack of hygiene or access to good health care.

“When you suffer depression in the outside world, it’s hard to concentrate, you have reduced energy, your sleep is disrupted, you have a very gloomy outlook, so you stop taking care of yourself,” said Robert L. Trestman , a Virginia Tech medical school professor who has worked on state prison mental health reforms.

The paradox is that prison is often the only place where sick people have access to even minimal care.

But the harsh work environment, remote location of many prisons, and low pay have led to severe shortages of corrections staff and the unwillingness of doctors, nurses and counselors to work with the incarcerated mentally ill.

In the early 2000s, prisoners’ rights lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit against Illinois claiming “deliberate indifference” to the plight of about 5,000 mentally ill prisoners locked in segregated units and denied treatment and medication.

In 2014, the parties reached a settlement that included minimum staffing mandates, revamped screening protocols, restrictions on the use of solitary confinement and the allocation of about $100 million to double capacity in the system’s specialized mental health units.

Yet within six months of the deal, Pablo Stewart, an independent monitor chosen to oversee its enforcement, declared the system to be in a state of emergency.

Over the years, some significant improvements have been made. But Dr. Stewart’s final report , drafted in 2022, gave the system failing marks for its medication and staffing policies and reliance on solitary confinement “crisis watch” cells.

Ms. Grady, one of Mr. Johnson’s lawyers, cited an additional problem: a lack of coordination between corrections staff and Wexford’s professionals, beyond dutifully filling out dozens of mandated status reports.

“Markus Johnson was basically documented to death,” she said.

‘I’m just trying to keep my head up’

Mr. Johnson was not exactly looking forward to prison. But he saw it as an opportunity to learn a trade so he could start a family when he got out.

On Dec. 18, 2018, he arrived at a processing center in Joliet, where he sat for an intake interview. He was coherent and cooperative, well-groomed and maintained eye contact. He was taking his medication, not suicidal and had a hearty appetite. He was listed as 5 feet 6 inches tall and 256 pounds.

Mr. Johnson described his mood as “go with the flow.”

A few days later, after arriving in Danville, he offered a less settled assessment during a telehealth visit with a Wexford psychiatrist, Dr. Nitin Thapar. Mr. Johnson admitted to being plagued by feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and “constant uncontrollable worrying” that affected his sleep.

He told Dr. Thapar he had heard voices in the past — but not now — telling him he was a failure, and warning that people were out to get him.

At the time he was incarcerated, the basic options for mentally ill people in Illinois prisons included placement in the general population or transfer to a special residential treatment program at the Dixon Correctional Center, west of Chicago. Mr. Johnson seemed out of immediate danger, so he was assigned to a standard two-man cell in the prison’s general population, with regular mental health counseling and medication.

Things started off well enough. “I’m just trying to keep my head up,” he wrote to his mother. “Every day I learn to be stronger & stronger.”

But his daily phone calls back home hinted at friction with other inmates. And there was not much for him to do after being turned down for a janitorial training program.

Then, in the spring of 2019, his grandmother died, sending him into a deep hole.

Dr. Thapar prescribed a new drug used to treat major depressive disorders. Its most common side effect is weight gain. Mr. Johnson stopped taking it.

On July 4, he told Dr. Thapar matter-of-factly during a telehealth check-in that he was no longer taking any of his medications. “I’ve been feeling normal, I guess,” he said. “I feel like I don’t need the medication anymore.”

Dr. Thapar said he thought that was a mistake, but accepted the decision and removed Mr. Johnson from his regular mental health caseload — instructing him to “reach out” if he needed help, records show.

The pace of calls back home slackened. Mr. Johnson spent more time in bed, and became more surly. At a group-therapy session, he sat stone silent, after showing up late.

By early August, he was telling guards he had stopped eating.

At some point, no one knows when, he had intermittently stopped drinking fluids.

‘I’m having a breakdown’

Then came the crash.

On Aug. 12, Mr. Johnson got into a fight with his older cellmate.

He was taken to a one-man disciplinary cell. A few hours later, Wexford’s on-site mental health counselor, Melanie Easton, was shocked by his disoriented condition. Mr. Johnson stared blankly, then burst into tears when asked if he had “suffered a loss in the previous six months.”

He was so unresponsive to her questions she could not finish the evaluation.

Ms. Easton ordered that he be moved to a 9-foot by 8-foot crisis cell — solitary confinement with enhanced monitoring. At this moment, a supervisor could have ticked the box for “residential treatment” on a form to transfer him to Dixon. That did not happen, according to records and depositions.

Around this time, he asked to be placed back on his medication but nothing seems to have come of it, records show.

By mid-August, he said he was visualizing “people that were not there,” according to case notes. At first, he was acting more aggressively, once flicking water at a guard through a hole in his cell door. But his energy ebbed, and he gradually migrated downward — from standing to bunk to floor.

“I’m having a breakdown,” he confided to a Wexford employee.

At the time, inmates in Illinois were required to declare an official hunger strike before prison officials would initiate protocols, including blood testing or forced feedings. But when a guard asked Mr. Johnson why he would not eat, he said he was “fasting,” as opposed to starving himself, and no action seems to have been taken.

‘Tell me this is OK!’

Lt. Matthew Morrison, one of the few people at Danville to take a personal interest in Mr. Johnson, reported seeing a white rind around his mouth in early September. He told other staff members the cell gave off “a death smell,” according to a deposition.

On Sept. 5, they moved Mr. Johnson to one of six cells adjacent to the prison’s small, bare-bones infirmary. Prison officials finally placed him on the official hunger strike protocol without his consent.

Mr. Morrison, in his deposition, said he was troubled by the inaction of the Wexford staff, and the lack of urgency exhibited by the medical director, Dr. Justin Young.

On Sept. 5, Mr. Morrison approached Dr. Young to express his concerns, and the doctor agreed to order blood and urine tests. But Dr. Young lived in Chicago, and was on site at the prison about four times a week, according to Mr. Kaplan. Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, was not one of those days.

Mr. Morrison arrived at work that morning, expecting to find Mr. Johnson’s testing underway. A Wexford nurse told him Dr. Young believed the tests could wait.

Mr. Morrison, stunned, asked her to call Dr. Young.

“He’s good till Monday,” Dr. Young responded, according to Mr. Morrison.

“Come on, come on, look at this guy! You tell me this is OK!” the officer responded.

Eventually, Justin Duprey, a licensed nurse practitioner and the most senior Wexford employee on duty that day, authorized the test himself.

Mr. Morrison, thinking he had averted a disaster, entered the cell and implored Mr. Johnson into taking the tests. He refused.

So prison officials obtained approval to remove him forcibly from his cell.

‘Oh, my God’

What happened next is documented in video taken from cameras held by officers on the extraction team and obtained by The Times through a court order.

Mr. Johnson is scarcely recognizable as the neatly groomed 21-year-old captured in a cellphone picture a few months earlier. His skin is ashen, eyes fixed on the middle distance. He might be 40. Or 60.

At first, he places his hands forward through the hole in his cell door to be cuffed. This is against procedure, the officers shout. His hands must be in back.

He will not, or cannot, comply. He wanders to the rear of his cell and falls hard. Two blasts of pepper spray barely elicit a reaction. The leader of the tactical team later said he found it unusual and unnerving.

The next video is in the medical unit. A shield is pressed to his chest. He is in agony, begging for them to stop, as two nurses attempt to insert a catheter.

Then they move him, half-conscious and limp, onto a wheelchair for the blood draw.

For the next 20 minutes, the Wexford nurse performing the procedure, Angelica Wachtor, jabs hands and arms to find a vessel that will hold shape. She winces with each puncture, tries to comfort him, and grows increasingly rattled.

“Oh, my God,” she mutters, and asks why help is not on the way.

She did not request assistance or discuss calling 911, records indicate.

“Can you please stop — it’s burning real bad,” Mr. Johnson said.

Soon after, a member of the tactical team reminds Ms. Wachtor to take Mr. Johnson’s vitals before taking him back to his cell. She would later tell Dr. Young she had been unable to able to obtain his blood pressure.

“You good?” one of the team members asks as they are preparing to leave.

“Yeah, I’ll have to be,” she replies in the recording.

Officers lifted him back onto his bunk, leaving him unconscious and naked except for a covering draped over his groin. His expressionless face is visible through the window on the cell door as it closes.

‘Cardiac arrest.’

Mr. Duprey, the nurse practitioner, had been sitting inside his office after corrections staff ordered him to shelter for his own protection, he said. When he emerged, he found Ms. Wachtor sobbing, and after a delay, he was let into the cell. Finding no pulse, Mr. Duprey asked a prison employee to call 911 so Mr. Johnson could be taken to a local emergency room.

The Wexford staff initiated CPR. It did not work.

At 3:38 p.m., the paramedics declared Markus Mison Johnson dead.

Afterward, a senior official at Danville called the Johnson family to say he had died of “cardiac arrest.”

Lisa Johnson pressed for more information, but none was initially forthcoming. She would soon receive a box hastily crammed with his possessions: uneaten snacks, notebooks, an inspirational memoir by a man who had served 20 years at Leavenworth.

Later, Shiping Bao, the coroner who examined his body, determined Mr. Johnson had died of severe dehydration. He told the state police it “was one of the driest bodies he had ever seen.”

For a long time, Ms. Johnson blamed herself. She says that her biggest mistake was assuming that the state, with all its resources, would provide a level of care comparable to what she had been able to provide her son.

She had stopped accepting foster care children while she was raising Markus and his siblings. But as the months dragged on, she decided her once-boisterous house had become oppressively still, and let local agencies know she was available again.

“It is good to have children around,” she said. “It was too quiet around here.”

Read by Glenn Thrush

Audio produced by Jack D’Isidoro .

Glenn Thrush covers the Department of Justice. He joined The Times in 2017 after working for Politico, Newsday, Bloomberg News, The New York Daily News, The Birmingham Post-Herald and City Limits. More about Glenn Thrush


More From Forbes

Robotic ‘third thumb’ supercharges your hand, and your productivity.

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Product designer Dani Clode and the Third Thumb she created to boost hand flexibility.

If you’ve ever struggled through the door laden with too many packages and wishing you had another set of hands, good news. Innovators out of Cambridge University in the U.K. have developed a controllable robotic extra thumb designed to boost the hand’s functioning.

It does that by increasing range of movement and enhancing grasping and carrying capacity—picture holding a phone in your hand while a bag dangles from the extra thumb as if the mechanical digit were a hook.

The “Third Thumb” straps to the palm, opposite the user’s natural thumb, and has two degrees of freedom. It’s powered by wrist-worn motors, and the wearer controls its movements, and the speed of them, using a pressure sensor placed under each big toe. Pressure exerted on one toe pulls the thumb across the hand, while pressure on the other toe moves the 3D-printed digit up toward the fingers.

It all sounds a bit complicated to maneuver, but researchers say adjusting to the wearable thumb is surprisingly quick and easy. In a new study published in the journal Science Robotics , they detail what happened when they tested the device on a diverse group of subjects from toddlers to nonagenarians. Spoiler alert: Of 596 volunteers, 98% were able to successfully wear, operate and perform a task with the Third Thumb, which is made from a range of plastics, both rigid and flexible.

The thumb’s creator, British product designer Dani Clode , envisions the Third Thumb as a tool for people with disabilities such as paralysis or differences in their upper limbs, or those with reduced physical functioning due to conditions like broken arms or strokes. The robotic finger could also prove useful, she says, for workers required to juggle multiple devices—surgeons or dental hygienists, for example, or assembly line laborers, or even anyone who likes the idea of a supercharged hand.

Samsung Issues Critical Update For Millions Of Galaxy Users

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“The thumb is the single most useful piece of augmentation technology I've personally seen, and this is because it is so easy to control, and because it is so versatile,” Tamar Makin, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at Cambridge University, said in an email interview. Makin runs a lab that studies brain plasticity and co-authored the newly published paper. A former study of the robotic thumb explored how our brains adapt to control an extra body part.

“We are running a lot of basic research to better understand the fundamental principles that make wearable technologies easy to control, and as importantly, to ensure their safety on a cognitive but also neural level,” Makin said.

An extra thumb could make it easier to thread a needle.

The Third Thumb is one of a growing number of augmentative technologies, such as robotic exoskeletons , that are restoring lost physical function and generally pushing the limits of what it means to be human.

“From a design perspective, augmentation is about designing a new relationship with technology, creating something that is no longer just a tool for the hand, but instead an extension of the hand,” designer Clode said in an email interview.

Clode created a first prototype of the thumb while a master’s candidate at London’s Royal College of Art, then began collaborating with Makin and other neurosicentists in the professor’s plasticity lab. Clode designs upper-limb prosthetics, and wanted to better understand the mechanics of the human thumb.

“It’s such an incredibly unique limb and such a challenging, and sometimes left behind, part of a prosthetic hand design,” Clode said.

As the new study details, the Third Thumb team tested the device on visitors to the 2022 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, where boffins display their research. They gave volunteers a minute to familiarize themselves with the Third Thumb, then instructed them to complete tasks involving moving pegs or foam objects. You can get a glimpse of those experiments in the video above.

“We showed that pretty much anyone who wants to use the thumb can, and can figure out how to use it very quickly,” Clode said. “This level of evidence goes a long way toward commercialization, but we are not quite there yet.”

In the meantime, the designer is feeling optimistic about the Third Thumb’s potential as a tool that’s both handy and enjoyable to use.

In longer, more in-depth prototype trials lasting five to seven days, Clode was surprised to observe people becoming attached to the finger. “Some of our participants,” she said, “needed a little bit of time to say goodbye to the thumb at the end of the week.”

Leslie Katz

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